© David Zwirner
When painting is effective, it can stimulate or suppress the senses and simplify or complicate observation; sometimes it does both at the same time. Such is the case with Who is Sleeping on my Pillow, currently on view at David Zwirner in Chelsea. The conjoined exhibition of Mamma Andersson and Jockum Nordström offers works steeped in the real and imagined traditions and experiences of their native Sweden.
Andersson’s work frequently combines domestic interiors with warped perspectives that alter the viewer’s perception of the inhabitants present. The addition of murky black shapes, perhaps an interpretation of fog on old photographs, adds to the strangeness of these scenes. Here, in paintings such as Unitlted, 2009, the interiors are clearly inhabited, though the occupants are absent. The space implies the stllness left on Monday morning after everyone has left for work. This sensation is amplified by the lack of sound these paintings produce. They are utterly vacuum-like. Dead End, 2010, also signals recent departure.
In contrast, Norström’s two-dimensional works are fully populated with a variety of characters. The painted paper scenes run rampant with cutouts of historic and contemporary characters at once violent and comical, primitive and gentrified. Works such as Groaning, 2010, suggest a world where Swedish Folk Art and the naïve work of American painter Henry Darger coexist.
It is Nordström’s sculptures that suggest absence. Lasarett, 2009, is masterfully conceived in what appears to be repurposed cardboard. The structure conjures the abandoned housing project, ready for demolition.
Currently, there are a lot of painting shows in Chelsea and this is one of the best. For those not suffering from aesthetic A.D.D., Who is Sleeping on my Pillow, effectively silences the all to frequent requirement of spectacle, circuit, identity and signage. The show remains open through June 12.