Johan Pettersson – Lactarius, akvarell/tusch, 29x21cm, 2015




Johan Pettersson
by Håkan Bull
Johan Petterson’s art is inspired by nature in a complex and reflective manner. We are a part of nature, and we also have an ancient ability to understand and categorize nature as a scientific project. The aim of science is to give an exact perception of nature, but what is true today may well not be true tomorrow. Another problem is when trying to render true images in flora and fauna encyclopedias. Many ornithologists, for example, prefer painted and drawn illustrations instead of photos, because this way it is easier to depict general traits. So the truth must be manipulated in order to become more true. Johan Pettersson’s series Fungus contains watercolours, oil paintings and graphic works in an imaginative encyclopedia of psychedelic fungi. Often the Latin names are correct, but not always. The composition, colour scale and high contrasts are unnerving and dramatic. Johan Pettersson is quite inspired by the animistic ideas described in the book The Hidden Life Of Trees by the German forest ranger, Peter Wohlleben: In the forest there is an secret life where trees communicate with each other, they take care of their offspring and of their sick neighbours, they have emotions and memories.

Josef Frank (1885-1967)
by Jacqueline Stare
In connection with an exhibition in Stockholm in 2016 the book The Unknown Watercolours – Josef Frank was published. It is by Ulrica von Schwerin Sievert and Anna Sievert. Josef Frank is well-known in Sweden for his textile design, and even though he used watercolour to create the designs, he only seriously started painting still life, landscapes, and cityscapes at the age of 68. Being a Jew he suffered terrible losses during the nazi regime and he left his native Austria in 1933. There are now about 400 known watercolour works from his hand painted between 1953 and 1966. When Josef Frank moved to Sweden he had already made some designs for the company Svenskt Tenn and he was to become one of their main designers. He was a successful architect and designer in Vienna where he had met and married Anna Sebenius from Sweden. His style in furniture and textile design was labelled “Swedish Modern”. In 1965 Josef Frank was awarded the most prestigious prize for architects in Austria: Der Staatspreis Architectur. 

Arto Kohonen
by Camilla Granbacka
Arto Korhonen explores urban surroundings in his photorealistic watercolours. His newest works contain containers, demolition-ready buildings, paper mugs and bicycles. He has also often painted junk, black garbage bags and such. When painting natural-sized photorealistic bicycles he wants to convey a positive, friendly and playful mood, also regarding the environment. Korhonen (born 1963) lives in Helsingfors and he is dedicated to the watercolour medium which is quite unusual for contemporary artists. He participated in the opening exhibition at the Nordic Watercolour Museum in Skärhamn in 2000. Watercolour is not widely accepted in Finnish modern art, where focus has been more on new techniques such as video and conceptual art, but Korhonen likes the sense of skill and time consumption showing in the art-work. Many of his works have a political twist and some of the themes evolve round the urban human in a modern media society, others round environmental issues, wars and the refugee situation. In his opinion visual art should reflect our time, human beings and our values.

Frans Widerberg
by Live Sætre
More than 50 years have gone by since Frans Widerberg caused a stir with his watercolour works in the Young Artists’ Society, but two of his recent  Norwegian exhibitions have shown exclusively watercolour works. At 82 he now rather makes sketches and plans rather than paint, but he still exhibits watercolours, that haven’t been shown in public before. “I find that my life is a single picture that I am painting but which I never will complete.” Frans Widerberg’s works are so compelling because of their intensity. They seem to be created out of pure joy with a sharp eye and an open mind. Most of his paintings are quite complex and mysterious, depicting riders on long-legged horses, floating figures, religious and mythological characters along with signs and symbols, but even so his works are very popular. The watercolours seem light and spontaneous but are at the same time created with utmost precision. Another main subject is the landscape of Liguria in Italy where he has spent much time. He describes his art as being the result of intense moments of insight when struggling to visualize sensual emotions, dreams, visions, and experiences.

Summary by Marianne Gross