Astrid Svangren (born in 1972 in Gothenburg, Sweden, lives in Copenhagen and Oxford) is known in Scandinavia and internationally as a painter with an introspective but open-ended take on her medium. This is her first encounter with audiences in Finland. It is as if every presentation by her starts a new universe, from a new nothingness, but at the same time, she continuously tracks the movements of her own self through the work. Perhaps painting is a stage rather than a field, the work seems to be saying, and perhaps the way to be expansive is to listen attentively to what goes on inside.
At Kohta, Svangren has made a body of new work with various light textiles, plastic nets and papers which she has immersed in paints and waxes to dye and stiffen them and then crumpled, twisted, cut and suspended – either directly from elements of the existing interior (after having painted the walls yellow) or from frame-like wooden constructions.
The long composite title – From Searching: Mirroring/Metamorphosis/The Last Rinsing Water/A Yellow Room/Perpetual Movement/A Kind of Thorough Rinse/Artificial Colour – is a straightforward, even technical, description of what Svangren has been doing during a short residency in the Helsinki area. Instead of trying to decide whether this is painting or sculpture, or if ‘performance’ makes more sense than ‘installation’ as a description of what we will encounter, let us note that Svangren’s approach is experimental: she tries out thoughts by doing and making things. It may also be futile to try to pin an individual artist down as either ‘conceptual’ or ‘processual’, since the two approaches almost always coexist in an oeuvre or in specific works.
Installation views of From Searching: Mirroring/Metamorphosis/The Last Rinsing Water/A Yellow Room/Perpetual Movement/A Kind of Thorough Rinse/Artificial Colour at Kohta. Photos: Jussi Tiainen