Martin Wickström: “Europa”

An air of nostalgia. Martin Wickström ties together post war times with the present.

Martin Wickström has throughout the years carved out an unmistakable air of nostalgia and pop art in his work. Defined by a sense of melancholy, but at the same time by an almost fetishizing approach to the painted surface.

This is visible in his new exhibition at Lars Bohman Gallery. Objects, buildings or places that he has documented, old news paper photographs, personal things and found shapes, become prisms in his paintings that show glimpses of post war architecture and society. Sometimes with a muted feeling, and sometimes with a sharp light and an intense play with reflections from the sun.

The exhibition is called “Europa”. Can you speak about Europe, with the refugee crisis, racism and a dismantled welfare state, with such a nostalgic imagery? But what I first interpret as a provocatively introverted sentimentality, soon turns into a multilayered play with references from different times and with a strong sense of integrity.

What creates movement between the works is mainly how objects and shapes recur in different configurations, with shifts between photography to painting and sculpture.

Like the fascinating model of a gigantic radar next to a small house, originating from an image the artist found in a book from the 1950’s. In one of the largest paintings in the exhibition, Wickström brings that image together with a classical photo of a housewife from Massachusetts, who in the 1960’s took part in a scientific experiment investigating the mind expanding as well as calming effects of LSD.

In the photo that was originally published in Life Magazine in 1963 she is looking at two lemon halves with a happy drugged gaze. Here she is watching the little model of the radar and the house. A short moment in the past when the machinery behind modernism and scientific optimism culminated into a paralyzed present.

Milou Allerholm

Dagens Nyheter 7/9 2015