Before I came down with a cold I ticked of one of the boxes on the Stockholm social and cultural calendar: The Liljevalchs Spring Salon.
Liljevalchs is a Stockholm museum, nowadays run by the city itself, located at Djurgården. However as it is being renovated the show has used other venues; this year for the weeks of the salon they are located in a building that will be renovated soon. Last year it was the same thing but a different venue for the pop-up; that part I find rather endearing. It started when the Museum of Modern art was renovated a few years ago and they popped up a bit here and there meanwhile; they made the most of it and other museums have followed suit with some very interesting results.
The spring Salon is not a a curated artshow with a focus as such: anyone can, for a fee, submit an art work and if selected they will be on display and for sale at the Salon. This has been the case since 1921 although obviously the jury has changed, as has the scope of it.
According to Liljevalchs about 2500 people submitted works and different variations of painting(oil,watercolor etc.) is the biggest category of art. One can assume that it’s partly because of the everlasting popularity of paintings and because they are easily to submit and chances are high they get chosen(easy to hang on the walls if you know what I’m saying).
I guess I could write blog post about the jury alone, but they are undoubtedly well versed in the art of commercial success. The reson why I keep going back is because what ends up on those walls is a lackmus test of where we are as a society and where we are heading, if I want to phrase it pretentiously(which I do, of course. Like hello! Have we met?)
And let me tell me what it has come to. Someone used photos from real estate listings as motifs and painted them. Yes,I know, I had the same reaction. Even done ironically it’s pretty f**king sad. And then we haven’t even talked about the “the listings esthetic”. We are heading towards the apocalypse and people want to live in places that look like hell froze over. Scandinavian minimalism done without finess looks like a doctor’s waiting room, I’m very sorry but it’s true. And I realize that in part that’s just homestyling, it’s supposed to be a neutral space, but it does in fact look the same on Instagram and in a lot shelter mags. This is how we live now.
I was walking around the two floors that make up this years salon and it left me with a sense of emptiness. So many paintings were interiors void of people it scared me. But maybe that’s ,not the message really , but rather the aggregated subtext. The world right now is seen as threatening place and “bricks and mortar” have become very important(when in fact around the globe we are more secure and better off in many ways then we have ever been). Am I reading too much into the whole thing when I say that paintings with closed doors and lacking people is a symbol of the cold shoulder and people’s un-interest in the refugee crisis? Probably. But I’ll just let that line stay in the post anyways.
In conclusion; I was bored out of my mind. There were a few things that sparkled but in general the Salon this year was bland and about as arty as the pages of an IKEA catalogue albeit less colorful. Always interesting to see but not necessarily an art lovers delight. Luckily Marina Abramovic is heading for these shores so I might just be provoked in a good way soon.