Daydream Believer is a lighthearted, cheerfully optimistic exhibition encouraging imagination and fun, presenting works by 12 artists.
Everything is possible in a daydream! One can imagine travelling to unknown universes, pretend to be someone or something else, reenact the past or create possible futures. Daydreams are personal, a safe space to nurture one’s identity as well as an emotional and intellectual space for problem solving and creative thinking. Without daydreaming, the novels, music, films and art that we admire would not exist and our lives would be very bleak. As André Breton writes in the First Manifesto of Surrealism, “To reduce the imagination to a state of slavery – even though it would mean the elimination of what is commonly called happiness – is to betray all sense of absolute justice within oneself.”
Daydream Believer is a lighthearted, cheerfully optimistic exhibition encouraging imagination and fun, presenting works by 12 artists: Amy Worrall, Anna Harström, Carl Lindström, Ellen Ljungqvist, Filippa Nilsson Kallhed, Kreetta Järvenpää, Richard Krantz, Sara Lundkvist, Susanne Fagerlund, Tove Mauritzson, Fanny Ollas and Paula Pääkkönen. Curated by Anne Klontz.
About the artists
The main character taking center stage in the works created by Amy Worrall (b. 1989, United Kingdom) is the artist herself. Her colorful sculptures depict the emotions and narratives of a blonde, red-lipped woman with a lot to say about the world around her. Worrall mainly works with clay, describing how the material provides her with an immediacy to her own body and this is reflected in the feminine and voluptuous figures she creates. Often times, her works are embellished with other materials or accessories such as jewelry and beads. The sculpture, I’ll plant my own flowers then 2022) presents an independent and confident woman taking care of her own problems and she is doing it in style. Worrall’s works are unapologetically feminine, playful and give voice to issues and expectations framed around women by society. Pop culture is an important source of inspiration for Worrall who embraces current trends or fun role models such as Hello Kitty, but at the same time she is intrigued by finding the hidden problems that can be associated with these influencers and desires.
Anna Harström’s (b. 1993, Sweden) organic sculptures have emerged from the artist’s admiration for both architecture and nature. This duality is evident in her works as many of her sculptures have a bodily shape and appear to grow from the ground like tree roots, while their sizes mimic that of a side-table or stool. When she is creating her pieces, Harström explains that it is like a performance where she transforms to be part of her pack of creatures and making them is guided through improvisation as she may begin with an idea that changes during the process as shapes emerge and inform the results. For Harström, her works are like totems with animal forces and when she touches them, she feels anchored. The sculptures are made of stoneware clay which creates interesting surfaces and tactile qualities and is also a material the artist likes for its functional connection to tableware. One of the works in the exhibition, Heads or Tails, is meant to be used as a centerpiece to hold fruit.
With imagination and eye for ingenuity, Carl Lindström (b. 1996, Sweden) presents a proposal for a bench made of radiator parts. Yet the work, titled The Heat, is less about design and functionality and instead, a reminder of society’s abundant consumption and ease for throwing out old, unwanted, or out-of-style things – and this was the fate of the radiator which form Lindström’s sculpture. Searching the streets for cast-off items that represent life and domesticity is an important process in Lindström’s practice. He takes apart his found objects to understand the different components, and rearranges them to become more prominent or the subject of new purposes. Furthermore, Lindström highlights how the radiator is a symbol of modern convenience and dependency. While The Heat presents a dystopic narrative, it is simultaneously an important one as it is a statement about the future.
The spectacular mosaic sculptures by Ellen Ljungqvist (b. 1990, Sweden) are constructed from miniature glass squares which she diligently puts together like the pieces of a puzzle. Animals are often the focus of Ljungqvist’s oeuvre, they inspire her and play an important role in her fairytale world, yet the fairytale is simultaneously an extension of our contemporary lives. As Ljungqvist points out, the sculptures look real from a distance, but upon closer look the surfaces appear like pixels. Ljungqvist is interested in the metaphor between screen and pixels and pixels and mosaics. She wants to emphasize how people are spending too much time looking at screens and this is represented by the sculptures Lipstick and Disco Dumbbell. They both symbolize the overindulgence of screen time and how it influences our appearances and behaviors. It is disturbing to consider how much we believe in reality as it is presented to us through a digital screen when in fact, we should be looking closer at life surrounding us.
Fanny Ollas (b.1984) is an artist and designer based in Stockholm, Sweden, working primarily with ceramics and textile. She has a background within fashion but changed her career in 2015 to work with ceramics and sculpture. Fanny is interested in art and craft in relation to psychology and the emotional relationship we have with the everyday objects around us. In her practice, she uses clay to discover and explore visual storytelling and to give form to different mental states and emotions. She often works with scenography and with spatial installations where the objects interact with each other to create a mood or a story. She combines the playful qualities of the clay with a handmade expression to create a language that is both cute, humorous and sometimes sad at the same time. Her work can be described as to enter a surreal fantasy world in the borderland between an innocent fairy tale and a melancholic dystopia; a world in which the viewers are encouraged to discover and create their own stories. Fanny Ollas graduated with a master's degree in ceramics at Konstfack in the spring of 2018 and has since been active in her studio in Gustavsberg.
Femininity and humor merge together in the sculptures created by Filippa Nilsson Kallhed (b. 1986, Sweden). The three works in the exhibition, Tutti-Frutti, Hermes and Self-Care have been created through the process of casting in which the artist has used her body as the main focal point collaged together with objects she finds in her everyday surroundings such as food or items of clothing. The personal and the private are important resources for Nilsson Kallhed, and the experiments that take place in her studio become the starting point for creating a work. The stone-like appearance of her works reference sculptures of ancient times while the close-up and cropped perspective of various body parts is like a contemporary marketing tactic emphasizing the quirkiness of different areas. The unexpected twist of seeing ears with ankles or lemons for breasts is the unique vocabulary that comprises Nilsson Kallhed’s practice, and while she is interested in identity and sexuality, she likes humor and how it adds a twist to the very traditional medium of sculpture.
Everything begins with flowers for artist Kreetta Järvenpää (b. 1974, Finland). She skillfully arranges vibrant floral arrangements informed by the colors, textures and shapes of various plants and photographs them. The characteristics of different flowering phases, such as buds blooming and wilting, come together to perform a symphony about the passage of time, life and death. Following this narrativity, the work Seahorses and Mermaids (2022) carries with it a background story of how the artist found an old seahorse carcass in an antique store. She was mesmerized and haunted by its existence and how it had once been alive but was now preserved as an object. The delicacy of the creature and its status as an endangered species became the source of inspiration for the work. In the lower half of the composition, leaves and broken flowers lay scattered across the base, while a contrast of various purple flowers and yellow branches reach upward striving for life; a symbol of hope planted by the life of a seahorse.
Paula Pääkkönen is a glassblower and artist, whose series of colourful glass ice creams has been noticed all around the world. Glass is her main material because it’s such a challenging element – the glassblowing techniques are an endless source of inspiration for her. As an artist, she is currently working with the theme of childhood, memories and imagination. In her work she is chasing the moment, when common things still have a hint of magic and the proportions of the world may vary, bringing light to darkness, colour to the grey. Pääkkönen uses time consuming glass sculpting techniques to bring life to the sculptures, as she captures the movement of biting, crashing or melting into this fragile, rigid material. The contrasts of glass as hot and cold, malleable and hard, are an important part of her artistic exploration. Pääkkönen did her BA studies in Design and then studied glassblowing in the famous glassvillage of Nuutajärvi, graduating finally as a glassblower. She is now working as a freelance glassblower, blowing glass for designers and artists producing their work, as well as working on her own art. Her work has been exhibited at the Venice Glass Weeks, in Chart Art & Design Fair in Copenhagen as well as by many galleries in Finland, such as Lokal Helsinki, UU Market and Auran Galleria.
Working conceptually with texts and communication, Richard Krantz (b. 1989, Sweden) is a multi-disciplinary artist who writes or collects inspiration, words and phrases from his life as well as poetry or news headlines. From this foundation, Krantz is challenged to find the best media and format to express his ideas. The 2021 works Another Art Fair and High School Bully, have dual characteristics, they are both sculptural as well as painterly. The surfaces are hand carved by Krantz, with the letter forms purposefully rough and jagged, not because of the artist’s inability to carve, but because the words were first written on a drawing app and then transferred to the wood’s surface – a digital interference upon an object created by hand. The colorful, kitschy appearance is a purposeful gesture made by the artist, who admits that humor is what motivates him to create art, and at the same time it welcomes the viewer into dialogue with his works. We can all relate on some level to high school bullies and the feeling of satisfaction in knowing they received their due punishment.
Magical notions emerge from the works of artist Sara Lundkvist (b. 1982, Sweden) who shares being inspired by new age, spirituality and science fiction. Lundkvist is a masterful glass artist and has been working with the material for 20 years, transforming and manipulating it in ways that are unconventional from traditional standards. An example of this is found in the series of crystals, which are cast glass objects with complex characteristics. Their plastic-like façade is a thin disguise that disappears when light exposes a mystical transparent depth that seemingly withholds fortunes. Her use of playful color combinations such as rainbow gradients and kryptonite hues allude to a multiplicity of fantasy realms. The doorway to a dreamworld opens through Lundkvist’s Portals, which are blown glass forms created with a mirroring effect. The beauty of the jewel-tone surfaces is hard to resist and, as one comes closer and peers into them, a reflection of a distorted self is visible; the reality of our own unique selves becomes a surrealist portrait.
In our reality, there are creatures that exist beyond anything we can imagine. The photographs Fruiting Bodies by Susanne Fagerlund (Sweden) capture otherworldly beings that could be alive in some parallel universes. The beings appear fleshy, breathing and seemingly in a state of blooming and these characteristics emphasizes their realness as living, non-human forms. The artist has presented her species as portraits, highlighting their beauty, and possibly referencing the feminine by using a hot pink background. The photographs are part of a larger project in which Fagerlund is exploring digital archives with images of existing and extinct species and plants. In her words, the artist is like, “a mad gardener treating the archive as a compost pile of past, present and possible futures.” With the use of algorithms and digital tools, Fagerlund has sequenced the images and mutated them into new digital species and plants.
The world of figurative painter Tove Mauritzson (b. 1976, Sweden) rotates around the people, animals and memories of her home. Yet, there is no sense of an ordinary domestic life as Mauritzson embellishes reality with fantasy. The painting Still, I Believe I'm Worth Coming Home To (2023) is an eclectic kitchen scene about the joys and routines of daily life, from fishing and picking mushrooms to celebrating a 12-year old’s birthday. While the scene is heartwarming, with references to Swedish life in the countryside, there are twists and turns in the painting that guides viewers through a dreamlike moment rather than a depiction of today. As she describes, there is a childlike perspective in her paintings, and she thinks it is interesting to paint objects a bit awkwardly. Some objects may have exaggerated sizes or they are painted more flat without any depth and this is evident in the work where we see fish that seem to float in the air, purple mushrooms grow from the tabletop and the coffee pot is boiling over with plume of yellow blossoms. Throughout her extensive oeuvre of work, Mauritzson presents us with a self-portrait of who she is, and at the same time, we are welcomed into her home.