Curators: Bronwyn Griffith & David Neuman
For nearly 15 years, Swedish artist Gunnel Wåhlstrand has created extraordinary large-scale ink wash paintings that feature monumental landscapes, compelling portraits and serene interiors. This is the largest solo presentation of her work to date, giving visitors a chance to see the majority of her very limited production of only around 30 works in total.
The director of Magasin III, David Neuman, describes his first encounter with Wåhlstrand’s work in 2003 as “…one of those incredible experiences that you don’t have that many times in life. A student thesis exhibition that surpassed most of what I’ve seen over the past 20 years.” Magasin III has followed her closely ever since.
In order to understand her practice one needs to describe how she developed this exceptional technique of painting with ink. The only connection that Wåhlstrand had to her father while growing up was a box of family photographs. He took his own life when she was just one year old, and to fill the silence surrounding his life and disappearance, Wåhlstrand began to use these photographs as a point of departure for her paintings. Translating the photographic images by hand into a much larger scale bestows upon both artist and viewer a heightened sense of presence—almost as if one could step into the image. The exacting technique and the oversized scale are a nearly impossible combination that tests the limits of what is technically possible, a challenge that Wåhlstrand embraces because of the focus it demands. A drive to investigate her past is what has enabled her to develop a singular technique. Now she is leaving the family albums behind and applying her methods to images of personal significance.
“Although her works are very precise they have none of the rigidity often found in photo-realism. Instead, the transparent washes emanate a shifting fluidity and seem to dissolve when viewed closely.”
The exhibition Gunnel Wåhlstrand will travel to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen,Rotterdam, June 24–September 24, 2017.
A richly illustrated book has been published in connection to the exhibtion produced by Magasin III in collaboration with Art & Theory. The book includes texts by David Neuman, an original essay by Lars Norén, one of Sweden’s most celebrated playwrights and authors and a conversation between Gunnel Wåhlstrand & Bronwyn Griffith. The book presents Gunnel Wåhlstrand’s complete oeuvre and is richly illustrated with reproductions of all of her works. Graphic design by Stefania Malmsten and in collaboration with Art & Theory Publishing.
About the artist
Gunnel Wåhlstrand (b. 1974) lives and works in Stockholm. In 2003 she graduated from the Royal University College of Fine Arts, Stockholm. She has been honoured with a number of grants including The Swedish Arts Grant and the Maria Bonnier Dahlins Stiftelese. Her work is included in several prestigious museum collections. In 2006 she had a solo exhibition at Magasin III and in 2008 she completed a permanent commission for the entrance of the Scania and Blekinge Court of Appeal, in Malmö, Sweden. Wåhlstrand has had solo exhibitions in numerous institutions such as The Nordic Watercolour Museum, Skärhamn, Sweden (2013); Uppsala Art Museum, Uppsala, Sweden (2013); Parasol Unit for Contemporary Art (with Cecilia Edefalk), London (2011). Her recent group exhibitions include Tendencies 2013. Tenderness, Galleri F15, Moss, Norway (2013); Nordic-by-New York, ASF Scandinavia House, New York, USA (2011); 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2010); Samtidigt: Svenskt måleri på 2000-talet, Borås konstmuseum, Borås, Sweden and Passagen Linköpings konsthall (2009).
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