In October 2019 I got a phone call from my good friend Martin at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan. It’s time he told me, time to realize the dream that we have been talking about all this time.
The truth is that, for the last two years, we have been saying that there needs to be an event at the Embassy that pulls together all the great local artists in Tokyo in one place to show the world that Sweden is much much more than just smelly fish, fika and the Nobel Prize.
Our small country has a history of producing not only musical giants like The Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Max Martin but also film as well as performance artists and the truth is that some of those live right here in Tokyo.
6 weeks to produce a full show in a space that is about half the size of a soccer field is not the easiest of things but with a littl help from my friends the project really came together. The Theme was Blue & Yellow and that is in the end what I decided to call the collection that I put together for the event. I didn’t want it to just be paintings but a range of the things that I like to make which is why you see some hand painted shoes as well as T-shirts and hanging cloth, all of course in the Swedish Blue & Yellow.
I love all the work that has come out of this process which started with the double piece that I call “Love & Hate” I believe that when you have strong feelings for something, whether it be person, place or thing you develop a bipolar relationship with it. There is no love without hate, no peace without war and no black without white. This is the basis of Yin/Yang philosophy and the dualism of man and I think that it defines a lot of our human thought. So for me these two painting reflect my difficult relationship to my home country. I love it for what it stands for and its’ natural beauty while I don’t like to see what it has become in the last years or where it seems to be heading. Should I be happy that I left and stay in my memories or should I go back and see if there is something that I can do to make this tradgedy right again…..These are the sort of issues I battle with.
Sweden Love & Sweden Hate
I really really enjoy painting patterns as part of my creative process. In fact if I am not really sure what to do or which direction to head in then I usually pick 3 colors and just start painting patterns. This time was of course no different. I wanted to used the dark Swedish blue of the winter ocean as well as the warm yellow sun that sets in fall. Hearts are a reoccuring image for me as are flowers which is why these two are so great in silently framing the madness of all that came in betweem. Start with a pattern and end with a pattern just feels like a winning concept to me. I like balance in everything that I do which is why you see very little assymetry in my work and these two paintings really balance each other and the collection out.
Suck my Consumption & Eat my Puberty
The environment and Global warming as well as the issue of the ever increasing amount of ocean plastic and the havoc it is causing on marine life is a topic that is widely discussed but focus has once again been put on Sweden due to some of the activists our country has spawned…
To me the main cause of these issues is our complete apathy towards the destruction of the environment in which we exist. Not only do we as a species enjoy to watch our world burn but we are determined to speed up its destruction by excessive consumption fueled by aggressive marketing and a failure to properly handle the waste that we create. The first painting therefore mirrored my anger towards a world that seems to reward those who consume the most. I want a comfortable life without having to worry if I have something to eat tomorrow but I don’t need luxury or excess which discusts me.
The second painting is a bit more serene but equally damning in its message of what Social media is doing to the youth of today. It directs their lives and actions to the point where people decide what to do or wear depending on how it looks on their social media account. All the while big business is compiling our data, profiling us and “advicing” us on what to think, feel and believe. This painting is called “Eat my Puberty” as it is a big mouth sucking in everything we put out in the ether.
There is something special about sitting a watching people at the Shibuya Crossing. It’s like being in the middle of all those people makes you feel like the loneliest person in the world. Perhaps one is never as lonely as when one is alone in a crowd….Anyways the symbol of Shibuya, my home for the last 10 years is undoutebly the dog statue Hachiko. People meet there, take pictures there, and the story itself is such a tear jerker that it represent more than just Shibuya, in fact perhaps the whole Japanese spirit of loyalty itself.
I felt however that he needs a bit of modernization considering that the whole area has been rebulit in the last 5-6 years so I created Cyber-Hachiko. He is super cool with his lazer vision and can fly with the scramble cross that he carries on his back.
The elephant is one of my absolute favorite animals. With strong family insticts, a fantastic memory and one of the most long lived animals in the world it has so much to teach us. A couple of years ago I visited an elephant sanctuary in Laos and rode on and played with animals which had been saved from hard labour in the djungles around the area. My strongest memory is of the young calf who kept running back and forth asking just about anyone it could find to play with it. Even at a couple of months it is the size of a small horse and at hundreds of kilos it doesn’t even know it’s own strength. I have painted a number of paintings around this trip and this time I thought of this Yellow and Blue one and decided that it would fit perfectly in this collection.
My hometown is a small quaint and very beautiful seaside town in Southern Sweden which, when I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get away from….Whilst the summers were fantastic the winters were long and gray and full of retired people at the local supermarket.
So just like everyone else I made my way towards the bright city lights with hope in my heart and joy in my laughter. I spent time in a number of cities including Osaka, London, Sydney, Los Angeles, San Diego and Shanghai but the one I finally made my home was Tokyo.
This painting shows me on adventures in my city with buildings and twists and turns with a sparkle in my eye. It’s sour like a lemon because not all tha resides here is sweet but that is what any city feels like to a country boy I think….Not as lured by the city lights as I once was but still in love with my city.
Last but not least is this absolute masterpiece called more bananas. It was the first weekend of ArtBasel Miami and suddenly one of the world’d leading art galleries announced that they had sold a piece which was basically a banana taped to the wall for 120,000 USD. I don’t know which spot it hit in my psyche but I went absolute bananas for a lack of a better world.
One of the roles of art is to create social debate so that we can think about the silly, crazy or sometimes absolutely ridiculous. The oldest debate of all in the art industry is “What is art” and it has been discussed to death over the years. So is a “banana taped to the wall” art?
There are real issues in the world like poverty, famine, environmental issues and disease and this is the discussion that we feel the super rich (because those are the only ones who can afford this art) should be discussing.
I used “Gorilla Tape” on a banana yellow canvas and then I just went crazy on it. My banana will not go bad, it has longer shelf life and is thus a much better value then the real thing.