La Criée centre for contemporary art exhibits a selection of recent works by Jockum Nordström
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La Criée centre for contemporary art exhibits a selection of recent works by Jockum Nordström
Jockum Nordström, Pour ne pas dormir, La Criée centre for contemporary art, Rennes, 2021 © La Criée centre for contemporary art and Jockum Nordström courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, Zero X and Magnus Karlsson. Photo: Benoît Mauras.

RENNES.- A major figure on the Swedish art scene, Jockum Nordström has devoted over thirty years to his mischievous mix of worlds quotidian and oneiric, human and animal, abstract and naive, natural and architectural. At La Criée centre for contemporary art, he’s presenting a selection of recent works: collages, drawings and cardboard sculptures.

When worlds intersect
Jockum Nordström is also an illustrator of children’s books and a musician. His work is fuelled by references to popular and outsider art, jazz, Surrealism and architecture, in addition to Swedish culture and contemporary art. Out of all this emerge dreamlike fables in which different worlds and eras intermingle. The power of his work resides in the tension he sets up between simplicity of line and polyphony of subject matter.

Among his passions are architecture and a fascination with interiors and furniture going back to his childhood in the Stockholm suburbs, when the housing estates were being built. In his work architecture can be seen in both two and three dimensions. At La Criée he’s showing a series of fragile geometrical sculptures, el cheapo residential blocks whose slender lines contradict the saddening clunkiness of their originals.

Nordström defies and defeats pigeonholing: in his case the «supposedly badly made» is very well made – and deliberately so. He emphasises the liberating force of an expressiveness that simultaneously plays on and shakes off the shackles of convention: his forms and characters spill out of the frame, his lines can be messy or wobbly, his paint runs intentional; there are unfinished bits, crude cuts, crooked folds. Plus a sense of composition made all the more striking by its sheer zaniness.

When abstraction and narrative come together
Jockum Nordström’s commitment to forms and colours in their primal state is matched by his interest in narrative, whether real or imaginary. Here we have a storyteller moving back and forth between worlds, between characters and scenes, in a mingling of the childlike and the sexy, the contemporary and the timeless, the figurative and the abstract.

The collages on show are in earth colours: greens, dirty yellows, greys, diluted browns and faded blues, with touches here and there of darker, more saturated tones in the same range. The drawings illustrate the dexterity of someone who has been practising since he was a child.

Whirling, singing, enchanting: delightful in their clarity and liberty, Jockum Nordström’s works are imbued with his trust in simplicity and the absolute necessity of the creative act.

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