“You get an idea – which is a telling turn of phrase, really – you ‘get’ an idea, and then you have to take responsibility for it until it reaches its full potential. It’s as though you owe it to the idea to take care of it and develop it.”
In 2007, Sonja Larsson was awarded the Sven-Harry’s Art Museum Foundation grant, which has been awarded to artists annually since 2002, until the opening of the Museum in 2010, and every two years since then. As the Museum’s curator, I find it important to highlight this background. The grant recipients reflect the Foundation’s views on quality, in art and in building. And one of the criteria we mention when discussing quality in art is artistic consistency. This is found prolifically in Sonja Larsson’s work. Since her studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1980-85, she has oriented her efforts to developing highly unique methods for her artistic production, a slow, layered way of oil-painting on canvas or acrylic glass. She has consistently moved away from the easy option, with immense perseverance and a confidence in her own work methods, which she describes in the interview accompanying the exhibition, as a variable system of formal rules that govern her painterly efforts. In an ongoing, dialogue-like process, where time is an essential ingredient. But while the procedure of arriving at a finished work is governed by certain regulations, the result is characterised by being open, indeterminate, non-hierarchical. An artist she often refers to is Agnes Martin, who called herself an abstract impressionist, since her paintings, terse and well-composed as they are, nevertheless originated in something intuitive, a feeling. Similarly, Sonja Larsson’s abstractly poetic imagery has an emotional resonance that evokes associations that are entirely different from pure formalism.
Sonja Larsson has a huge talent and love for architectural qualities. An expression she used when we discussed the hanging of her paintings was that we should “show consideration for the building”, utilise and interact with it, and see everything as a whole. This feeling for spatiality is distinctly present in her many public art works, the most recent of which is a facade for the Rinkeby Academy, completed in 2012. Here, the need to protect the building itself has interacted with the aesthetic expression in a congenial design. The perforated sheet metal covering the entire building, including the windows, which allows people to look out but not look in, forms a protective layer that creates a special atmosphere both outside and inside.
A sense of sanctuary, exclusiveness and isolation, without any sense of claustrophobia. A place for growing and working.
Sonja Larsson says that she wants viewers to receive her works just like they listen to music. To trust their own experience. To believe that the impression they get is the one intended. “Give it 30 seconds and see what you see…” So it is with great pleasure we let Sonja Larsson fill our building, Sven-Harry’s (Art Museum), with her light. It will be a joyful experience, where we are encouraged to see what we see. And at the bottom of it all – as a kind of comfort – is her indefatigable labour. Her strong discipline, showing consideration for something. Something that is given to us. And hoping that it will be accepted, kindly.