Aka Høegh – De blå muffedisser, 23×30.5cm, 2011




Aka Høegh
by Marianne Gross
Aka Høegh was awarded the Winsor & Newton Prize for 2013 for her watercolour works that often depict myths and tales from Greenland or universal feelings such as love, envy and sorrow. Her respect for and love of nature is profound and also a predominant theme in her art. She spends much time outdoors – walking, sailing, fishing – and the view from her home in Greenland to the mountainside of “Akia” is cherised by Aka Høegh. She has painted it numerous times in various moods and weather. She has made many works depicting situations and figures from the Greenlandic myths such as “the Mother of the Sea”, both on her own account as well as for commissioned works such as book illustrations and stamps. She has never wished to be anything but an artist and her need to express herself has always been great even though she wasn’t given the opportunity to pursue an artistic education. This was not due to any objections from her parents – their support was full-hearted and her father built her a studio she uses even today. With brief exceptions she is a self-taught artist, but early on she came in contact with other established artists such as Jens Rosing, Hans Lynge, and Bodil Kaalund. Apart from inspiring and encouraging her, they gave her highly appreciated advice and friendship.

Jusuf Suljanovic
by Roger Sandberg
Jusuf Suljanovic came to Sweden as a fugitive from Bosnia with his wife and two children in 1992 and he now lives and practices in Luleå. He doesn’t want to talk much about this period in his life, even though it obviously must have marked him. He was born in 1939 to a poor family, but had a happy childhood in an area where the surroundings were very beautiful. He completed Graphic School and studied art at the University of Sarajevo. Thereafter he settled in his home-town as an art teacher and a successful artist. He masters most techniques, but for a long time he has painted mainly with watercolours. He started with fairly traditional, realistic images, but now he has developed an expression that is bolder, more abstract and very dynamic, even though he still mostly paints outdoors on the spot. Jusuf Suljanovic was an established artist before he came to Sweden and he has succeeded in creating a career as a Swedish artist as well. He combines the colours and themes of the two cultures that he has been a part of. He still incorporates the nature and the animals of his childhood in the paintings but he also uses subjects and pigments characteristic of his adopted homeland. He is fascinated by the changing of the seasons and find the dramatic colours of autumn especially inspiring.

Lena Amstrand
by Jacqueline Stare
As an architect Lena Amstrand has created many project presentations in watercolour in spite of the predominance of computer-aided design nowadays. After having finished her education as an architect Lena Amstrand gave herself a week-long course at Gerlesborg where she for the first time met Arne Isacsson and his methods. This way of working and thinking suited her well, but it wasn’t until 15 years later that the watercolour artist in her emerged, when she attended a watercolour course led by Hasse Karlsson. She finds her main subjects in landscapes – especially impressions of the surrounding nature where she lives on the West Coast of Sweden, though not necessarily as realistic images. She prefers to capture the magic of the air and the light when a sudden glimpse of sunshine is seen on a surface. Often she will paint outdoors and make preparations while waiting for that brief moment when the sun breaks through and the face of the landscape completely changes. Even though she admires artists who use strong colours, her own range of colours is more subdued. She prefers to be on her own while painting, but otherwise it is essential for her to have contact to fellow artists, in NAS and otherwise. She teaches watercolour but she also still attends courses regularly – especially at Gerlesborgsskolan.

Bertil Hansson
by Margaretha Margo Olsson
Bertil Hansson first started to paint watercolour when he joined a course led by Arne Isacsson near Avignon. The technique was appealing to him, it was quick and easy to set up materials and get to work anywhere, he was urged to be more spontaneous and free, and he liked the element of surprise: when taking a break the colours dry and the watercolour may paint itself. In this period NAS was founded and Bertil Hansson and his partner Arne Thomasson got involved in the board as well as in the editing of the magazine. 10 years ago they moved to Provence where the surrounding atmosphere, the colours and the scents of the landscape is deeply inspiring to him. By moving he found new inspiration and new ways. He moved from figurative watercolours to more abstract themes and now also works with egg tempera, photo and graphics. He still exhibits in France, Sweden, and the rest of Scandinavia – solo as well as group shows – and in 2012 he became involved in a very interesting project: He was contacted by an art teacher who had shown his watercolours to fourth-graders in a Swedish school. They were very inspired by his works and painted many abstract watercolours. He now communicates with this class via Facebook and he has plans of helping them print and exhibit their works.

Reidun Tordhol
by Live Sætre
At 80, Reidun Tordhol lives in a house she took over from her parents. The garden resembles one of her paintings: very appealing and filled with colours, but apparently created spontaneously by itself. She does not care about any trends, but has always followed her inner urge to create beautiful pictures. She works intuitively, in the summer she paints outdoors and when it gets too cold she paints the view from her studio window. She is well-known for her still-life paintings, but they are created only with acrylics – never watercolour. They are very accurate and “planned” whereas her watercolour landscapes have a more contemplative and meditative feeling. She has practiced meditation since 1961. She seldom paints houses or people but will often paint the same landscape in different moods or from different angles. She does not invent new techniques but finds new possibilities in traditional methods, and even though she says she tries to depict a certain colour or atmosphere, others might find her landscapes filled with anxiety and fear. They are first are foremost skilled works of art for which she received the Winsor & Newton Prize in 2003. Part of the jury’s motivation was that Reidun Tordhol was granted the prize for her sober and poetic way to treat watercolour in contemporary art.

Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolour
by Peter V Nielsen
Adirondacks in the state of New York is an area that has attracted many artists such as Winslow Homer and Rockwell Kent. The exhibition in this natural park is very prestigious and gives a good insight into American watercolour art. This year 104 artists from all over the USA had been chosen, the majority of them showed works that were extremely controlled and precise, not leaving much room for the spectator’s own imagination. They were mostly quite large and represented a great deal of effort. There were a number of portraits which primarily were concentrated on technique – they were skilfully painted, but artistically uninspiring. The term “watercolour” was widely defined to also include acrylic painting. A small number of paintings showed new and interesting techniques, such as Barbara Kellog’s monoprint on ricepaper glued onto watercolour paper and finished off with acrylic paint. Yupo “paper” (which I haven’t seen before) was a popular choice of the exhibitors and Judy Laliberte used a method with many layers that had dried before next layer had been applied. Eric Wiegardt showed a watercolour in a sketchy manner that we are much more familiar with. He explains that his attempt was to be minimalistic and to allow the viewer to fill in the interior detail.

Summary by Marianne Gross