Johan Nobell

20 Nov - 20 Dec 2009

© Johan Nobell
Price of Power, 2009
Oil on linen
23.5 x 33.5 inches
"Bugs and Ceramics"

20 November–20 December, 2009

Pierogi is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings by Swedish artist Johan Nobell. In these new paintings, Nobell continues to develop his unique take on landscape and man’s relation to it, and on the struggle between abstraction and figuration. In these paintings—which at first glance read as landscapes—abstraction does battle with figuration in riotous mash-ups where forms are built up from fragments of this and that, where detritus swirls into the seemingly familiar shapes of horizons, mountains, canyons, seas and, recently, even human forms. Here nature strikes back against its own poisoning and struggles to survive by returning man’s interventions and debris to natural forms. But the poisoning reveals itself and revels in noxious colors and cartoon-esque gestures. Each painting depicts a self-contained world while resisting easy interpretation. In paintings like Desperate Trails, Last Stand, and Hobo Mountain, Nobell suggests evocative and unbelievable narratives, potential scenarios that could be taking shape.

“Nobell’s paintings aren’t really landscapes in any realistic sense of the word. But they do inhabit or haunt a space that is vestigially connected to the high falutin’ language of the romantic sublime, the panoramic vistas of Cole or the luminist landscapes of Martin Joseph Heade. As a phylum of the American landscape sensibility, Nobell’s canvasses owe something to Jim Shaw’s thrift store politics, H.C. Westermann’s take on America... and the ‘impure’ political painting that Philip Guston undertook after turning his back on abstraction.... Like work by these artists, Nobell’s landscapes are born of the jerry-built enclosure, the closed-ground atomic test sites of the 50’s, the amateur politics of the thrift store, the do-it-yourself acid trip, the kitsch counter and the emblem / scrap book.” (Tan Lin)

Nobell graduated from Valand University of Art (Gothenburg, Sweden). He was an artist-in-residence at New York’s International Studio and Curatorial Program and has recently exhibited his work in Sweden, Denmark, and elsewhere. He currently lives and works in Stockholm.


Tags: Philip Guston, Johan Nobell, Jim Shaw