This major survey of work by Swedish artist Jockum Nordström brought 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 simple charm and naivety ran throughout Nordström’s work, yet it was not without inner complexity: His characters, whether they are riding horses, sailing boats, making love or playing music, were constantly in action. But as the scenes unfolded, they revealed imagery of a strange, sinister, at times even violent, nature.
All the work has a handmade quality, from the intricate graphite drawings to the 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 worked 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 evoked historical eras, including imagery such as a regatta of schooners and period costume – top hat and tails, full-skirted coats, knee breeches and frills. The fairy tale world that these pictures revealed is populated with animals – frogs, insects, birds, crustacea and horses – as well as people. His dogs leapt into the sky, horses galloped above the horizon, a man balanced a tall ship on his top hat and buildings sit upon table tops. These surreal scenarios were at once specific and vague, always strange and confusing, with a compelling sense of mystery.
The exhibition was accompanied by a hard-back, 208-page catalogue, published by Hatje Cantz.