Bjarne Melgaard, “Right Here, Right Now”

Bjarne Melgaard
Bjarne Melgaard, Untitled, 2015. Image: Lars Bohman Gallery.

In “Right Here, Right Now,” Bjarne Melgaard’s impressive new exhibition of paintings and drawings at Lars Bohman Gallery in Stockholm, the artist courageously maps out and shares his psyche, conveying an array of mental states, from neurosis to obsession to disappointment.

Alongside these visual works, Melgaard added free-floating text blurbs directly onto the black gallery walls with white chalk, scrawled phrases ripe for public consumption. Melgaard incorporates academic and appropriated terminology, which nods to his interest in psychotherapy.

As the observer glides from one room to another, it becomes apparent that these works are not to be considered primarily as solitary pieces, but instead as visual components of one narrative, which reflects the artist’s mental landscape. Upon entering the show, the first room holds what might be considered the roughest works, colorful drawings on translucent plastic. The second room displays framed works sketched in colored chalk, while the last and largest room displays a series of large-scale oil paintings. None of the works have formal titles, which supports the idea that all works should be interpreted as parts of one larger composition.

Many of these works incorporate phrases or relay fragmented dialogue (for example, “You will be the same” or “It’s just so painful”), among the featured characters, which are oftentimes strange, globular humans or, in contrast, cuddly, cartoonish animals. Melgaard’s characters share a tragic quality; while they may seem adorable upon first glance, they also appear to be disturbed, caught in a brutal maelstrom of existentialism, which transforms their childlike demeanor into a sense of desperation or helplessness.

While part of a critic’s responsibility is to attempt to remain objective about what one views, it has proven to be a difficult task in this case. Melgaard has a talent for dissolving pretense or unveiling emotion in his works. One may discover that their own life, on some level, mirrors that of the characters portrayed in the exhibition; it is easy to sympathize with Melgaard’s universal themes of uncertainty, solitude, and even despair. The artist’s rebellious nature and anxious energy reveals itself through his deliberate combination of exaggerated scale, vivid color scheme, and intensely personal topics (love, loss, and escape, for example). He also engages in intellectual ideologies; his works bring to mind Guy Debord and Michèle Bernstein’s Situationist Movement, Freudian theory, Melanie Klein’s object relations theory, as well as philosophical tenets derived from Nietzsche.

Melgaard’s current exhibition is fierce and relays to those who are paying attention that we are in the presence of exceptional, uncompromising creativity. In short, “Right Here, Right Now” reminds us that art still originates from human beings who have layered inner lives that cannot be seen or understood with ease. To see the review in context, click here.

Edgar Cleijne & Ellen Gallagher, “Better Dimension”

Edgar Cleijne & Ellen Gallagher
Installation view. Image: Jacquelyn Davis.

Presenting collaborations between Dutch artist Edgar Cleijne and US artist and filmmaker Ellen Gallagher, ‘Better Dimension’ at Stockholm’s Bonniers Konsthall includes experimental works that provide socio-political commentary on US history and race relations from a cosmic, obscure distance. More »

Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA1)

Aslan Gaisumov
Aslan Gaisumov, People of No Consequence, 2016.

For the first Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, curator Katarina Gregos has chosen to view Latvia as ‘the center of the world,’ where other regions and nationalities become satellites. This is refreshing, for the Baltics have previously been considered to have a peripheral status. More »

Johannes Heldén, “The Exploding Book”

Johannes Heldén
Johannes Heldén, Clouds, 2017.

As one enters the space temporarily designated for Swedish artist and poet Johannes Heldén’s The Exploding Book at Konstakademin’s in Stockholm, one detects that Heldén is receptive to nuance; each creative gesture confirms his dedication to both text and image, expressed with equitable consideration. More »

Malin Gabriella Nordin, “Floating from Within”

Malin Gabriella Nordin, Veil of Dreams, 2017. Image: Gallery Steinsland Berliner.

Stockholm-based artist Malin Gabriella Nordin is one of many Swedish women artists who resort to the basics – or perhaps the old ways, meaning they’re not particularly interested in the digital. More »

“Survival Kit 9”

Andris Eglītis, Laboratory of Poetic Research, 2017. Image: Jacquelyn Davis.

The 9th edition of Survival Kit is orchestrated by a small team of Baltic and Scandinavian curators: Jonatan Habib Engqvist, Solvita Krese and Inga Lāce. All possess a background in organizing independently and within the confines of institutions, which may be their strong point—their fluidity. More »

The 9th Momentum Biennial

Jenna Sutela, Sporulating Paragraph, 2017. Image: Momentum 9.

Momentum 9, taking place in the industrial town of Moss, Norway, is being curated by Ulrika Flink, Ilari Laamanen, Jacob Lillemose, Gunhild Moe, and Jón B.K. Ransu, who together represent the Scandinavian region. With this biennial’s focus on ‘alienation’, the curators joined forces to determine how alien processes and entities are infused in our lives through technological, ecological and social transformations. More »

Klas Eriksson, “Vet din mamma var du e?”

Klas Eriksson
Klas Eriksson, Evidence of Patchwork, 2017. Image: Göteborgs Konsthall.

Swedish artist Klas Eriksson has developed a practice rooted in examining subcultures via works in public spaces and spontaneous performances. With an interest in how power flows and how crowds function, the artist attempts to unpack sociopolitical dynamics using playful tactics. More »

Lovisa Ringborg, “Night Remains”

Lovisa Ringborg
Lovisa Ringborg, Fountain, 2017. Image: Cecilia Hillström Gallery.

In Lovisa Ringborg’s second exhibition at this gallery, the artist upholds the argument that displaying a set of harmonious works can be more potent than a plethora of free-floating entities. More »

Przemek Pyszczek, “1989”

Przemek Pyszczek
Przemek Pyszczek, Public Relief No 6, 2016. Image: Gallery Belenius.

Polish-born, Canadian-raised, Berlin-based artist Przemek Pyszczek displays new works which are primarily sculptural and mixed media, with stints into collage. More »