I will be showing a selection of paintings, many not exhibited before, at the lovely Jenny Bergström’s apartment gallery on Kolbäckgränd 22. She will be hosting a salon on January 25, 2020 from noon until 4 PM. At 2 PM we will have a talk about my work. Otherwise viewing only by special appointment.
The title ”sprezzatura” is an Italian term used in men’s clothing, another interest of mine, where it denotes the art of being well dressed with apparent effortlessness, even carelessness. It can also encompass a breaking of the rules, in a way that still looks good. It is the opposite of the type of nervous perfection of perfect symmetry, spotless surfaces and immaculate straight lines. The term sprezzatura first appears in Baldessare Castiglione’s Il Libro del Cortegiano, The Book of the Courtier, (1528). Sprezzatura is defined by Castiglione as ”a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”.
It all connected when again I came across the concept of ”sprezzatura” in a very in-depth book on Rembrandt (Ernst Wan De Wetering. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work. ). Apparently the first Dutch edition of Baldessare Castiglione’s Il Libro del Cortegiano appeared in 1662 and was dedicated to Jan Six, of whom Rembrandt made a famous portrait. Rembrandt and his contemporary painters were involved in a debate on painting in a smooth or rough manner. In his book Castiglioni draws a parallell between the demeanour of the courtier and the loose, seemingly careless manner with which the artist wields his brush.
In an interesting way this apparent effortlessness of style aligns with the kind of painters I have always enjoyed most. Figurative painters like Velázquez or Rembrandt who’s brushstrokes are loose and free, and whose paintings at close examination can look like blotches of paint or geological samples. Or someone like the contemporary American Mary Heilmann. When we met the painter David Reed for the Thinking Through Painting-project, he told us his friend Mary Heilmann had been called a ”sloppy minimalist”. To me that sounds quite wonderful. Like ”sprezzatura”.
September 5, 5pm-8pm at Konstakademien during the exhibition Thinking Through Painting. An improvised lecture on improvisation with the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy.
The talk will be followed by an improvisation concert with:
Jean-Luc Nancy (voice)
Jesper Eriksson (saxophone)
Peter Schuback (cello)
Kristoffer Linder (percussion)
Davor Kajfes (piano)
Jean-Luc Nancy has written more than twenty books and hundreds of texts or contributions to volumes, catalogues and journals. His philosophical scope is very broad: from On Kawara to Heidegger, from the sense of the world and the deconstruction of Christianity to the Jena romantics of the Schlegel brothers.Nancy is influenced by philosophers like Jacques Derrida, Georges Bataille and Martin Heidegger. Is most known for La communauté désoeuvrée (translated as The Inoperative Community in 1991), at the same time a work on the question of community and a comment on Bataille. He has also published books on Heidegger, Kant, Hegel and Descartes. One of the main themes in his work is the question of our being together in contemporary society. In Être singulier pluriel (translated as Being Singular Plural in 2000) Nancy deals with the question how we can still speak of a ‘we’ or of a plurality, without transforming this ‘we’ into a substantial and exclusive identity. What are the conditions to speak of a ‘we’ today?
The evening has been made possible through generous support from the Philosophy department and Critical Cultural Theory research at Södertörn University, The Royal Academy and Institut français de Suède.
Jean-Luc Nancy and Jonatan Habib Engqvist looking at some rather odd paintings by Jan Rydén. Please note the camera crew’s microphone peeking in from the side. Photo: Sigrid Sandström
”The brain highlights what it imagines as patterns; it disregards contradictory information. Human nature yearns to see order and hierarchy in the world. It will invent it where it cannot find it.”
Benoit Mandelbrot The (Mis)Behaviour of Markets (2004)
I have been thinking a lot about photos during the last week, when I was supposed to think about painting. Trying to find a definition of painting got me thinking of photography, and what a platonic art it is.
I am running this artistic research project (Thinking Through Painting) together with Kristina Bength, Sigrid Sandström and Jonatan Habib Engquist. In a way I’m just trying to explain why I love painting. Because I already made the choice, it was before the words. So, now I’m just trying to put words to it.
In the beginning of this project we where talking a lot about language and painting. I used to work as a journalist so I have been very preoccupied with the idea of language being concept based whereas painting is not. But then on the other hand, that applies to all visual media; photo, film or whatever.
With a painting it is very obvious where a painting is, because it is here, you have it. But where is a photo? It is much more platonic, in a sense. Even more now when it is digital, but it was also true when you used film. You had the negative, which was the original in some way. But you never looked at the negative, you looked at the paper copies. You could develop them in different ways in the dark room. Or you had the positive, but you didn’t really look at the positive either. You shot light through the positive and you looked at the image on the wall or the screen. Very much like Plato looking at the shadows in his cave.
And now you have the digital RAW-file. You don’t look at that either. The resolution on the screen is only 72 dpi. You can make prints in different resolutions but they all contain less information than the RAW-file.
So where is the photo? It is like a bleak mirror image of the world. You never really see the photo, you are always looking at some type of reflection of an invisible originial. In that way it is much less material than a painting. At the same time, for us the photo is much more related to the real world. Having thought about photo in this way, I now look at painting in a new way.