Sofi Lardner Häggström – Invention I, akvarell/gouache, 180x150cm, 2014
Sofi Lardner Häggström
by Håkan Bull
Sofi Lardner Häggström seems like a down-to-earth average person when you meet her, but when she goes into the studio she reveals another side of herself. The theme of her art is spiritualism, the belief that it is possible to communicate with the spirits of the deceased. She is also interested in background material regarding women’s history. Spiritualism took of in the Victorian ages where women’s lives were quite restricted, but they were traditionally thought to be more tuned into moral and ethical issues. Most mediums were female and this was a way for them to be heard. Sofi Lardner Häggström has a large collection of historic pictures and texts she draws on for inspiration, but she also visits “haunted” places where she takes photos and films as well as makes sketches. Her watercolour projects include the exhibition Fantasma about an Italian town that was flooded by an artificial lake, The Power Of The Hand Series showing close-up paintings of the hands of the people participating in seances, and the suite Evidence based on old police photos where she was attracted to the underlying drama of the stories. The paintings Barham I-IV deal with the conviction of Helen Duncan in 1941 who allegedly during a seance had contact with a crew member from HMS Barham, which was hit by German torpedoes. Invention is a series depicting odd spiritual and hypnotic machines
by Marianne Gross
Judging by appearance Esther Sarto seems a pretty and peaceful young girl, but when seeing the art she creates, it is obvious that there is much more to her than meets the eye. Something more violent, dramatic and diabolical. Two of her recent works are a body and a heart made up of roots and mushrooms, horrifying and admirable at the same time. In other works she depicts beautiful women with devils, skeletons, sinister animals or torn-off limbs as headgear. Her painting and drawing skills brought her into graffiti and street art as a teenager and she travelled around Europe decorating walls and surfaces, not always legally, which is why she at that time used her nom de guerre, Miss Take. Now back in Denmark she is invited to organized street art and mural events and has also started to exhibit in regular Danish galleries. Many of her works deal with the contrasts between light and darkness, beauty and ugliness, life and death, joy and thoughtfulness. Titles like The Devil Series and Lady Demon maybe show what lies behind, but she will also combine grotesque and bizarre images with humor and aesthetical beauty. Esther Sarto has never been attracted to the main-stream art education focusing on conceptual art; she is a self-tought watercolour painter and she embraces the fact that this technique cannot be controlled completely.
Helgi Hjaltalín Eyjólfsson
by Jon B K Ransu
In 2007 I was a curator for a show of Icelandic installation artists and sculptors in Croatia. I asked the artists to lay-out proposals for their works. One by one the artists presented their digitally designed ideas on their lap-top, but Helgi Hjaltalín Eyjólfsson took out a picture painted in watercolour. I had known Helgi to be a sculptor, a stunning craftsman in all kinds of wood and a brilliant conceptual artist, but I had never known him to hold a brush in hand. Helgi told me that he had painted watercolours long before he went to art school in the late 80’s and had never really stopped. He often used them to do sketches and layouts, but would never show them.Three years later he had an installation piece at the top floor of the National Gallery in Iceland. It consisted mostly of watercolours. Since 2010, most of Helgi’s installations consist of watercolours and wood. One should, however, never disregard the fact that his approach to watercolour is sculptural, even though he paints figurative images on paper. All the watercolours I have seen from Helgi over the past eight years relate to violence, in one form or another. All of Helgi’s art is titled Favourable circumstances. He associates it with Charles Darwin’s theory that any circumstances in nature are favourable for some kind of life, in one form or another, even sculpture can be favourable circumstances for watercolours.
Anette Gustafsson – seeking new paths
by Jacqueline Stare
I met Anette Gustafsson for a talk about her art project for school children. She followed a one-term course at Konstfackskolan (Arts and Crafts School) in Stockholm called “Creative school of didactics and pedagogy for artists”. Her exam project was a puzzle game and a project description which became reality for 5th graders at a school in Tyresö outside Stockholm. A project within the frames of creativity encourages the children to explore, invent, and analyze things from an aesthetic point of view. It is also of great value to combine various subjects. Anette Gustafsson had prepared the class regarding Pablo Picasso, the history of Guernica and the Spanish Civil War. The idea was that – apart from learning about art and history – the pupils would also use mathematics (to enlarge their sketches) and woodwork to cut out the pieces of the puzzle. The teachers involved were all very enthusiastic, and the children found her and the project extremely interesting. She now has contact with the municipality of Norrtälje for further elaborations of these kinds of projects for their schools. It is possible to seek funding from The Swedish Arts Council for creative projects within arts, music, film, etc., but the schools must be interested in making this effort and there must be artists willing and capable of undertaking the project.
Summary by Marianne Gross