This major survey of work by Swedish artist Jockum Nordström (b.1963) brings together collages, graphite drawings and architectural sculptures, representing the breadth of his work from the 1990s to the most recent pieces made especially for the exhibition. The title All I have Learned and Forgotten Again harks back to the wisdom and magic of childhood, a lament of the lost innocence that gives way to the demands of an adult world.
A child-like charm and naivety runs throughout Nordström’s work, yet it is not without inner complexity: His characters, whether they are riding horses, sailing boats, making love or playing music, are constantly in action. But as the tableaux unfold, they reveal imagery of a strange, sinister, at times even violent, nature.
All the work has a handmade quality, from the intricate graphite drawings to the architectural sculptures made from cardboard or matchboxes. Nordström’s collages read like story boards, and he has often referred to them as “stills,” where all the action takes place simultaneously within a frozen frame. He often works on several collages simultaneously – firstly cutting then painting and drawing out the characters who will populate his tableaux, then allowing them to migrate into different arrangements across ‘frames’.
Nordström’s drawings evoke historical eras, including a regatta of schooners and period costumes – top hat and tails, full-skirted coats, knee breeches and frills. The fairy tale world that these pictures reveal, is populated with animals - frogs, insects, birds, crustacea and horses – as well as people. His dogs leap into the sky, horses gallop above the horizon, a man balances a tall ship on his top hat and buildings sit upon table tops. These surreal scenarios are at once specific and vague, always strange and confusing, with a compelling sense of mystery.
A version of this exhibition was exhibited at the Lille Métropole, musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France earlier in 2013. The exhibition is accompanied by a hard-back, 208-page catalogue, published by Hatje Cantz.