Tommy Sveningsson

Born in Jönköping in 1982, Tommy Sveningsson lives and works in Stockholm. He holds a degree from Valand Art College in Gothenburg, and is one of the artists behind Gothenburg art space Vita Rosen. His work has previously been exhibited at Bohusläns Museum, Konsthallen Trollhättan, Galleri Thomassen, Nässjö konsthall, Kunming in China, and Gallery Steinsland Berliner. Citadell is the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.

Skogskyrkogården. Vinterviken. Bron. Motet. Tyresta. In Citadell, Tommy Sveningsson presents a series of drawn snapshots from his everyday explorations of the Swedish urban landscape. Subdued and quiet, the works bring out a timeless and lyrical reflection of the contemporary through scenes taken from forests, parks and motorway junctions in Sweden and beyond.

The drawings on view in Citadell present a wistful and silent nature, where the light and ambience of the setting comes in focus. With this new body of work, Sveningsson presents a neo-impressionist and intimate view of the quotidian, where the striking romanticism of his previous drawings has changed into a soft social realism with streaks of symbolism. With their classic compositions and central perspective, the images all suggest a way forward: a brook flowing through a wintery landscape, a train track leading into eternity, a path running through a storm beaten forest. A quite movement in an otherwise frozen moment, and a subtle play on eternal metaphors.

Based on snapshots taken with his smartphone, Sveningsson has searched for a personal recognition of the motive, but also been responsive to the light and mood of the surroundings. There is an intimacy and closeness in the motives, where the viewer seamlessly blends into the sober and desolate landscapes. Stripped of all designations that could determine a when and why, the images only hint at the existence of human life. A sticker on a streetlamp glowing in the dark, a heart carved into a tree trunk, a piece of enigmatic scribbling on a wooden bridge. The signs strengthen the works’ contradiction between momentary social realism and evasive timelessness, a notion that is further established by a sculptural replica of a limestone placed in the exhibition.

With its medieval scribbling and drawings, the stone substantiate the subtle symbolism that recurs throughout the exhibition, while also relating to the title, Citadell. A diminutive of the word city, meaning little city, the term was used to describe the core fortified area of a city, a place which in a time of war and battles meant the last haven of refugee or the last line of defence. In the case of Tommy Sveningsson, the citadel is something much more metaphysical and personal, a place where outside and inside blends and harmonise.

Text: Sonja Nettelbladt