The painter Anna Camner and sculptor Fabian Bergmark Näsman, who have both recently joined The Forumist’s roster of artists, share a common interest in process and form, resulting in highly finished works which could be as much the result of industrial means as an organic emerging from the subconscious. The Forumist talks to them about their work.
If you enter the first floor of Liljevalchs, the newly extended three-storey art gallery on Djurgården, and turn left into the permanent art collection, you will find a small painting that seems to have a special glow to it, almost like it is illuminated from within. The artwork has, despite its small presence, huge integrity and speaks loudly to the gallery visitors. It is a somewhat scary piece of painting to look at and when I approach the artist with my thoughts about it, she shows equal confidence: “Well. Lukewarm has never been my thing… it only makes sense to explore stronger feelings.” The painting is the work of Anna Camner.
The artist Anna Camner has a background in science and studied maths and physics in high school. After graduation, she took a year off and went to art school, which would change her direction from then on. But her genuine interest in science is still very much evident in the art made in her Södermalm studio, where she has worked full time for the past 20 years with a production of seven to ten paintings a year. The studio is also the place where she daydreams about “finding the perfect brush”, and creating the new art platform Black Iris with her husband Mattias.
crylic paintings on plexiglass, depicting materials like membranes, fat and plastic with motifs from her subconscious has become her signature. “I keep returning to the same materials, especially when they balance between natural and artificial, like dynamic membrane structures that can transform both structurally and functionally.” At the moment it is especially fat and plastics that make her heart tick: “Fat in my paintings is energy and fuel, it’s organic, beautiful and a necessary component in many living things but at the same time it has a low status, which is an interesting contrast to play with. Plastic is always all around us and is such an important part of our lives that it almost seems integrated with our bodies. Recent research has found it is even in our blood and lungs.”
Several of her recent paintings are of a melting substance pouring out from industrial pipes, and it is difficult not to think of the gushing bubblegum-like mass as a comment on efforts to be sustainable. It has that same scary gothic quality as her earlier work and somehow that is partly why it is so intriguing.
In a much tinier space of Stockholm, the white-cube gallery StudyForArtPlatform squeezed between the crowded bars of the Sofo neighbourhood, we first encountered and were enthralled by the extraordinary sculptures of Fabian Bergmark Näsman. From ceiling to floor, a pole-shaped sculpture of perfected swirls reminiscent of a 90’s tribal tattoo in a glistening smooth metallic finish. Passersby are surely sobered up when they see it. Such is the perfection in his craft that the artist says, “People have often thought that my works are renderings when they see pictures of it”.
FABIAN BERGMARK NÄSMAN
Bergmark Näsman works exclusively within the field of sculpture and makes objects in synthetic materials and metals such as aluminium and bronze. In his work process, he mixes traditional techniques such as mould making and casting with relatively new materials such as silicones and resins. The sculptor has been quite busy during the past year, having made public art in the Stockholm suburb Årsta and collaborated with the high-end travel luggage brand Rimowa.
Fashion has always excited the artist and it was the first field where he felt he could start exploring his visual interests. That being said, he mainly dresses in work clothes: “Eventually everything I own becomes work clothes. Which makes me a little bit sad, but with that, I also started enjoying not drawing attention to myself because of what I wear or how I look.” That real-deal kind of approach stands in stark contrast to the sculptures that have qualities of fantasy and artificiality, something the artist never consciously aimed for.
It is the technical aspects of making them that brings out the surreal or extraordinary. “What fascinates me about how we portray the artificial, unreal, or even superficial,” Bergmark Näsman explains, “is how it is constructed. The elements of which it is composed are often borrowed from the real and natural world. I think it is the misplacement of these elements that makes something appear as unreal, it has more to do with new combinations and contexts for the already existing.”
The work of these two artists have much in common, not least the ability to conjure the tingling sensation you get on your back when looking at something that catches you off guard, something that is liberated from norms and conventional rules, as well as the emphasis they both bring to bear on their premium craftmanship. In our time, where it is hard to find time to do anything properly, the skills of these two artists are simply liberating.
An edition of Fabian’s work will be available in The Forumist art collection soon.
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