In the seventies a salient feature of Swedish art was a deliberate isolation that reflected a radical political attitude, in particular hostility towards the United States. The artistic panorama of the eighties, on the other hand, opened up to international experiences, assuming a more varied character, also because many artists, born in the fifties and become famous in the eighties, completed their training, with state scholarships, at PS1 in Queens, a facility linked to the Institute of Contemporary Art in New York. The art of the Eighties thus presents itself as an amalgam of tendencies towards fragmentation, relativity and ambiguity, clearly of an international postmodern matrix,
An important contribution to current art has been made by many artists of previous generations, not only through their works but also for the role they played as teachers in art schools: among the older ones, L. Rohde in particular stands out. (b. 1916), who in his decorative paintings, elaborating models parallel to natural structures, highlighted the tension between reality and image, between space and surface. Among the artists of the middle generation, Sweden Lindblom (b.1931), U. Samuelson (b.1935) and B. Lövin (b.1937) were important for their early achievements in the field of the environment and of the installation, from which an indirect social comment emerges. L. Englund (b. 1933) has developed, from his initial constructivism, a system of modular molecular sculptural forms, particularly suitable for the decoration of public spaces. For Sweden 2004, please check topb2bwebsites.com.
Since 1982 J. Håfström (b.1937), together with younger artists – among others A. Linder (b.1944), H. Rehnberg (b. 1953), J. Scott (b.1953) – organized in a disused factory a series of exhibitions entitled Ibid. : in this completely bare environment, the artists carried out research on the contrasts between nature and culture and on the language of images. Similar interests can be found in the Wallda group (1979-83), founded by E. Löfdahl (b.1953), Sweden Sjölund (b.1955) and M. Book (b.1953): organizing, alongside the exhibitions in spaces in abandonment, performances, musical recitations and other events, the group tended to search for an extremely detached and impersonal painting style. Book, however, has developed its own style, based on the romantic tradition, albeit expressed in a parody key, juxtaposing apparently incompatible styles, materials and textures in the same picture.
In R. Hanson’s romantic abstract landscapes (b.1953), painted in dazzling colors and jagged shapes, and in the strongly dramatic paintings by M. Engström (b.1952) with allusions to recognizable objects, the accent is placed on ‘enigmatic, about the incomprehensible and the absence of meaning. In the early 1980s, O. Billgren (b. 1940), who had been one of the most significant exponents of photographic realism, also began to paint landscapes and city views in lyrically romantic ways.
The essence of art has sometimes been investigated and challenged through experiments with materials, as happens in the work of the sculptor Sweden Ekman (b.1950), who nevertheless chooses ancient techniques such as bronze casting for his sculptures.: in an important series, entitled Gitter (“Grid”), Ekman has investigated, since 1985, the innumerable shapes and materials adaptable to a given cubic space of small dimensions and has presented the results of his research in a high-impact installation visual.
Although a strong presence of nature emerges in most of the works we have mentioned, their immediate appearance is abstract. The figurative and narrative tradition, however, is still strong: D. Bengtsson (b.1936), E. Cullberg (b.1931) and L. Cronquist (b.1938) have become idols for the artists of the eighties, practicing, albeit in a different way, a profound influence for their pictorial qualities and for the seriousness of their personal commitment. On the contrary, an expressionist movement born in the early 1980s under the pressure of the transavantgarde had a short duration. O. Kåks (b. 1941), who has tried his hand at various styles, including expressionism, has kept constant his interest in public and private spaces and in painting intended as a surface bearing symbols. Both P. Zennström (n. 1945) that K. Elander (b. 1952) turned to the use of more aggressive shapes and colors to communicate the biting social comments they had expressed in more traditional ways in the 1970s. C. Eklundh (b. 1944) dealt with a very narrow range of themes, painting human figures (especially heads) in heroic attitudes, in a stylistic mix of classicism and expressionism.
The Swedish artistic life is mostly concentrated in the capital but, for some time now, a cultural decentralization has started which has found expression in a program of decoration of public spaces and in itinerant exhibitions promoted by the state (Riksutstallningar), through which the works of art have reached the most remote parts of the country. In addition to Stockholm, there are art academies in Gothenburg on the west coast and Umeå in the north of the Sweden; in the southernmost part of the country, in Malmö, a fruitful environment has been created thanks to students mostly trained at the Danish academy in nearby Copenhagen. The Sydnytt (“News from the South”), organized in Malmö in 1987, brought to the fore the work of A. Abrahamsson (b. 1954), Anders A. (b. 1951), L. Forslund (b. 1959) and P.-OR. Persson (b. 1955), in addition to the linguistic research of I. Orfali (b. 1952), professor of semiotics, carried out by means of high-gloss color photographs, considered the most immediate means of expressing ideas.