Convincing Historiography

The first thing you see at Angelika Knäpper Gallery is a kid’s bike by the brand Maraton in a glass showcase. It’s still wrapped in its original protective paper, despite the fact that it appears to be almost antique. Objects concentrated by the passing of time is a recurring theme in Wickström’s artistry, but in the latest exhibition they are surprisingly few. Besides the bike there is only a showcase with plastic plates from Cambodia, apart from that Wickström is exhibiting nothing but pure painting.

The showcases are nevertheless important. They are the hub the exhibition circles around. The bike belongs to paintings of modernist architecture and the postwar dreams of a better world. The plastic plates are connected to paintings with motives from the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia. In one of these paintings Maly Oudom Ma, a young woman, firmly stares at the viewer. When you find out that she is of the same age as the bike in the showcase, the two tracks of the exhibition meet in a historical horizon. The tracks also meet in the melancholy: the bike and Maly Oudom Ma belong to what didn’t happen, the photo that the painting depicts was taken moments before her execution.

Wickström’s combination of the more personal, western perspective and the global political works out surprisingly well. He partly owes it to the painted media’s position in-between documentary and memory. He also manages to stay away from being politically correct or private in a trivial way, instead he’s asking questions about what a new and better world could be like.

Jacob Felländer at Galerie Aronowitsch also ties geographical rooms together through a media, in this case photography. The exhibition has its starting point in a short text about continent displacements, time and space, and I feverishly search for an imprint of that in the images. Time is visible in the motion blur of the images but I have difficulties seeing how it effects the geographical theme of the exhibition.

But still I am drawn to the photographies. It’s about the technique. The double layers of motives in the images make it difficult to say whether the images are double exposed or if Felländer has used a long exposure time. It’s also about poetry, in the prismatic photographies an image of a world, increasingly overpopulated and chaotic, emerges.

Felländer as well strikes a melancholic tone. I go to Tris Vonna-Michell’s exhibition at Milliken to find a louder, more excited mode. A year ago Vonna-Michell had a performance here. Then the visitors got to listen to a surreal story about the hunt for the artist’s identity. The length of the story was up to the visitor with the help of an egg timer.

The theme is the same this year.The fact is that a part of the exhibition tells the same story, but now on tape. The remake in a different media doesn’t provide anything new but can be motivated as a background to the more strained video work in the smallest room of the gallery. Here we find the artist sitting before two lawyers whom he’s rapidly trying to convince that important parts of his work were stolen. The story quickly becomes confused to the point that Vonna-Michell himself seems to doubt the amount of truth in it. Still he’s able to influence me to believe in the story.

Maybe it’s the three previous exhibitions connections to the passing of time that makes me see how clearly Håkan Rehnberg works with that theme in his paintings. I’ve always seen them as substantive claims, as actual traces of what it means to apply paint to a base. My materialistic interpretation has interfered with how Rehnberg’s abstract fields also reflect the time that passed while creating the works.

A fascinating side of Håkan Rehnberg’s painting is that it won’t allow corrections. It’s as far from post production as possible. It doesn’t make them less of a trace, on the contrary they are much more “honest” in their report on time than any of the other exhibitions. The paintings are not nostalgic, not manipulated and definitely not strained. Through this directness they have qualities that I think Rehnberg’s sculptures lack this time. They are human.

Review by Håkan Nilsson
DN, 13/10 2007