“By what does a line drawn on a piece of paper become art?”
Lund, June 9, 2017
As readers of this blog will know, I am not an art critic; I’m an art recommender and write only about what I like and want, therefore, to share with others. There is enough of negative energy in this world…
I’ve known Anita Christoffersson for over 3 decades, she’s a friend of the house and I am – bear with me – happily biased in what follows.
Today I went to see Anita’s studio in the small idyllic Swedish town of Landskrona, located in a huge, almost empty factory building full of spooky rooms and corridors but hosting a collective of artists and their studios.
They do their creative work here because the municipality of Lund 30 kilometres south of Landskrona where they used to have their studios for years didn’t see the obvious benefits of supporting their rent with a few thousand dollars per month – while it goes out of its way to brand Lund as the new high-tech centre of Sweden, if not all of Scandinavia. Catchwords: Ideon Science Park, ESS and Max IV.
It’s a huge development in Lund, a picturesque historical and green university town in the south of Sweden. Over the next couple of decades its population may increase from the present 110,000 to 160,000 or more because of the inflow of researchers and their families from all around the world.
Aiming at such branding without any sense of the role of art and culture in a broad sense – and investing seriously in it – will likely end Lund up as a cultural desert and all the internationals it will attract to its science parks will flock instead to culture and art-filled places like Malmoe, Copenhagen, Berlin, Basel…Bilbao.
What an opportunity lost!
But fortunately, little Landskrona saw the light – as it has with its investment in branding itself as the new centre of photography in Scandinavia. It’s started out, boldly, with the Landskrona Photo Festival that you may read more about here.
Anita is one of those artists who struggles with her subject.
One path of her lifelong work is a continuous exploration – as simple and as complex as it is – what it means to do art. She has this wonderful formulation of it:
– At what moment, with what special energy, does a line drawn across a paper become art?
This issue has lead her into creating simple pencil drawings that appear “doodle”-like abstract on prepared papers and applying colourful brush strokes to them.
And for years she has explored the circle – yes, the circle – again as simple and as complex (philosophically) as it really is.
Within a square field or space where do you place it, how close to the edges, how thick, what materials, colours and surfaces? How does it fill that space without dominating it, how do you balance a circle as part of some other shape?
The circle explorations appears on paper and plast as well as on large steel plates on which Anita has burned the circle in enamel at around 800 degrees Celcius. A large piece of these decorates the Church Forum adjacent to the famous Lund Cathedral.
The other track in her art is her life long grappling with her own life’s challenges since childhood.
– I want to use my life experience but in a way that speaks to my viewers in a generalised sense. I think we all feel small sometimes, or think we are not good enough, or feel full of joy – and I seek to find out how to communicate that in a way that moves these feelings beyond myself and reaches the minds and heart of others. It’s important that they feel that they see something in themselves through my works, she explains.
There are handkerchiefs with small sentences in them. There are curtains – and the “what’s behind them”? that we can only speculate about but shall never know. Such non-stated elements fascinates her.
There are the larger pieces of textiles with embroidered texts such as: “I’ve lost my way” or “Have mercy”.
On the surface it looks pretty simple. But it emerges from deep down. It’s raw sensibility. Unsentimental, for sure.
And 110% honest.
There is not a grain of calculation aimed at creating a desired spectator reaction. Neither of sales opportunity on the market.
Anita Christoffersson art isn’t about a never-ending burst of creativity projected unto others or the public space and making impressions. It’s not about succeeding in terms of following this or that momentary trend on the – perversely commercialised – art market.
Neither she herself or her works impose upon you. They are too genuine for that.
She probably does what she does because she must.
That type of more silent, deep and existential art has incredibly limited chances of commercial success. So in-between she takes teaching jobs or sends stipend applications in all directions.
Her explorations have taken her to, among other places, Japan, Australia, Denmark, Italy and Finland and London. After two years of hard – also “theoretical” – struggles, she obtained an MA at the top-notch Goldsmiths of the University of London.
I do not know how you feel about such existential art – but I think it is great. Great, true art.
And in my view it tells you much about modern Western society and its illusionary, poor commercialism than about Christoffersson that her works are not selling at the tens of thousands of dollars level.
I hope you’ll take a closer look at her works at her homepage where you can see more of her works and read about her.
And let me end this with a few haphazard snapshots of studio details. I even met Andy Warhol in the artists kitchen…