Kristina Bength – In the medical dark room, 152x0cm, 2011
by Jacqueline Stare
During her art education Kristina Bength met the Swiss artist Silvia Bächlis in connection with a project at the Nordic Watercolour Museum. This meeting was a huge influence to the young painter and opened her eyes to new ways of using the watercolour medium. She now usually paints interiors (based on photos) with emphasis on shadow and light; most of the paintings are quite large and often they are monochrome, sometimes even black-and-white with numerous gray shades. Much research goes into each series of paintings and one paper that really got her started was on how differently men and women were portrayed in hospital and police photos round the end of the 19th century. She came across the story of Amanda Kristina Pedersen, a young criminal woman, whom she found very fascinating, and started to research deeper into her life. Apart from being convicted for various kinds of fraud she was also a professional photographer and left a large legacy of interesting photos. Kristina Bength has worked on several series evolving around the identity of Amanda Kristina Pedersen, the most recent one is based on the photos she took at a hospital in Uppsala. The latest works have turned out to be a journey into what was then accepted as the science of physiognomy – the assessment of a person’s character by judging the physical appearance. These pieces seem to describe the physiognomy of the hospital, none of them having people in them.
by Jacqueline Stare
Boats and the sea have always been important in Björn Senneby’s life. His boyhood dream was to become a sailor, which he never did, but he has been able to make a living as a marine painter, mainly using watercolour. He took a formal art education in the 1960’ies but also spent a great deal of time at sea and even nowadays he goes sailing with his family each summer. These couple of weeks he will not paint at all, but the rest of the time he works with great discipline giving as much attention to the sea and the skies as the actual boat or ship itself. He does much research out of pure interest and he knows a great deal about sailing and building boats. He seeks perfection in his work and he never washes or makes correction in his watercolours but works with care and patience. All details of the ship are completely accurate. If even the slightest mistake should occur, he discards the whole work. He sells his paintings from galleries and he has also been commissioned to paint “portraits” of many ships from private owners. 41 of his watercolours of sailing ships have recently been shown at the Historical Marine Museum in Stockholm.
Margareta Jungerth Boo
by Jacqueline Stare
As a child Margareta Jungerth Boo loved spending time with her grandfather. They would paint and do woodwork together. She never got any formal art education but became a pre-school teacher and worked as such for about 30 years before concentrating full-time on being an artist. Apart from having contact with local and national Swedish painters she has a large international network resulting in numerous invitations from abroad to go and show her paintings. She was recently invited to exhibit in a gallery in the USA and in 2005 she was awarded the Prix Aquarelle at the International Watercolour Salon in Trégastel, France. Margareta Jungerth Boo is very keen on experimenting. She may use white paint along with the very dark colours to give a more intense contrast to her landscapes. Sometimes she mixes watercolour with ink and on other occasions she creates relief-like effects by squeezing a liberal amount of paint directly on to the paper from the tube. When painting landscapes or portraits she often seeks a strong impression rather than any likeness and she will often find that she is inspired by art she has seen recently, even though she quite often has no fixed idea where the particular work is going to end up before she starts painting.
by Lasse Sandström
In Hans Verduijn’s studio (a two-room apartment) there are paintings everywhere -hanging on the wall and standing on the floor. In the bedroom he keeps the intaglio press, and the balcony is used for framing as well as painting during the summer. The living room acts as showroom. Besides numerous watercolours, acrylics and graphic works, he exhibits furniture and other items that he has decorated. He came to Sweden from Holland in 1968 and since then he has been extremely busy, eager to make a living for himself as an artist. He has a solid art education from Sweden and France and apart from working and selling prints and originals he has ever since had many exhibitions and also held frequent painting and graphic courses. Though his works have many details and are quite controlled and perfected, they are inhabited by weird and wonderful creatures and objects: penguins in vodka bottles, magpies on 3-wheel-bicycles, tubes of “landscape”-painting and so on. He starts with an original in watercolour and works his way through the graphic process in the intaglio press and maybe later he will rework the same painting in oil or acrylics. His inspiration comes from the natural world, mainly animals, but he uses his imagination to create odd and humorous situations and subjects. He likes to compare his way of painting with the cartoons in which Donald Duck uses chequered paint. It is obvious that he enjoys painting these figures – and they are also great fun to look at.
by Marianne Gross
Her parents persuaded Mona Sloth to take an education in book-keeping even though her heart was set on becoming an artist. She married early and raised a family, but when the children grew older, she took courses at the Danish Graphic Design School and started working as a graphic illustrator. She also joined Grafisk Værksted, a Danish centre for graphic arts where she worked with various printmaking techniques. At one point she developed an allergic reaction towards some of the chemicals used and was forced to try and find other ways of expressing herself artistically. The leader of Grafisk Værksted, Tove Marie Petersen – a qualified artist from the Danish Art Academy who also taught watercolour – suggested this technique to Mona, and since then she has been a very keen watercolour painter. Primarily she paints landscapes with a distinctive Scandinavian touch limiting her choice of paints to blue and earth colours in a soft, warm tone. She is a very active member of NAS in Denmark and many times participants of workshops and other painting events gather round her to see her create these wonderful sceneries. She will generously show them how she does it, but will always refer to Anna Törnquist in Sweden as a good teacher of many of the techniques that she uses. Mona paints en plein-air but also uses her own photos as reference. Her works are bold, free-flowing semi-abstract personal interpretations that convey moods and feelings rather than any kind of realism, but they still have a distinctive, often recognizable motif. Contrasts are very important to her as is harmony. She may make use of various methods such as scraping in the paint to create lines, spraying/washing out parts of the painting or sprinkling salt in the wet paint, but she always returns to the traditional art of wet-in-wet watercolour painting where most of the work is done in one process while the whole piece of paper is damp. She has been very busy these last couple of years, exhibiting and organizing watercolour workshops but has now promised herself one year off – giving her much more spare time to concentrate just on her own painting.
by Live Saetre
In the self-portrait Rein Mägar gave to his wife as a Christmas present he included a black square in the left-hand side. Why? He cannot explain, but just says that every artist must find his own black square, small or large. In 2003 he joined NAS as the first Estonian member and at the Baltic Bridges Watercolour Biennale in Vilnius in 2010 he met the Norwegian painter, Morten Paulsen, and became very fascinated by his style of painting, which he came to learn was inspired by the great Swedish artist, Arne Isacsson. Rein Mägar received his art education from the Tartu Art School and the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts, from which he graduated in 1971. Apart from being an artist he worked as an editor and a graphic designer for many years under the strict censorship that prevailed then and which forced him to find alternative ways of individual expression. He began to paint watercolours only in 1996, but now this is his main medium. The last 10 years he has had about 30 solo exhibitions in Estonia and some group exhibitions abroad. He is inspired by nature and life around him and mostly works from photos he has taken – not copying them, but for general inspiration. Even before lifting his camera he knows how he wants his painting to be like. Even though his painting subjects are down-to-earth he wants his works to be more than just descriptive. He hopes also to convey his own feelings and fascinations. A good watercolour is like life, however. Many aspects contribute to a result. It is not just his own effort as a painter, he says, but also the work of the water and the paint itself. He does not experiment much or use mixed media – watercolour in itself is a great experiment each time you paint. Finally he states: I have heard that the difference between a good and a bad artist is the size of his dustbin – mine is still quite small.
Summary by Marianne Gross