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Artwork by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg
The artwork "Who am I to Judge, or, It Must be Something Delicious" from 2017, made by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg.
Photo credit: © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

The modern art world of Sweden – and artists of note

Sweden has a strong contemporary art scene, with a roster of talents making waves on home turf and beyond.

Art in all guises can be experienced in Sweden. Contemporary expressions are harnessed and conveyed in a range of ways by Swedish artists. Much like the modern art sphere as a whole, Sweden’s talents typically seek to inspire debate by commenting on societal shifts and values, via painting, sculpture, textile art, large-scale installations and anything in between.

You’ll find an abundance of contemporary works in the country’s many quality museums, galleries and sculpture parks. It’s also possible to discover captivating creations in the digital realm – either via the artists’ own channels or courtesy of museums, such as Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art) and the Wanås Konst skulpturpark (Sculpture park).

Here are eight notable Swedish artists who are contributing to the scene in their own unique way:

Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

Berlin-based couple Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg have worked as an artist duo since 2004. Today they’re part of the upper echelons of the Swedish art world, making waves internationally with creations that bring together animation, sculpture and sound to form surreal dreamscapes that appear nightmarish and mildly humorous in equal measure. As for their individual talents, Djurberg is known for distinctive sculptures and clay figures, while Berg contributes with the musical aspect that forms an integral part of each installation-like artwork. You’ll find several of their playful yet provocative works dotted around the Wanås Konst skulpturpark – among other notable establishments.

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"Dragon on pillows" by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

In 2018, "Dragon on pillows" was created by artists Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg.

Photo: © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

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"Dragon on pillows" by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

Photo: © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

"‘This is Heaven" by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

Photo: © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

"Dark Side of the Moon" by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

Photo: © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

"How to Slay A Demon" by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

Photo: © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

"Dragon on pillows" by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

Photo: © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Karin Mamma Andersson

One of Sweden’s most celebrated artists, Karin Mamma Andersson is known for her dreamlike paintings that typically depict figurative motifs and scenes from everyday life, and often with Nordic folk art references mixed in. The Luleå-born artist, who’s married to fellow artist Jockum Nordström, trained at the renowned Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. This is where she acquired the nickname ‘Mamma’ (Mother), which she still fondly uses. Now based in Stockholm, she is a recipient of the prestigious Carnegie Award and you’ll find her captivating paintings at Moderna Museet among other key establishments.

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Karin Mamma Andersson

Artist Karin Mamma Andersson at work in her studio.

Photo: Karl Melander

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Karin Mamma Andersson

Photo: Karl Melander

Karin Mamma Andersson

Photo: Karl Melander

Karin Mamma Andersson

Photo: Karl Melander

Karin Mamma Andersson and Jockum Nordström

Photo: Karl Melander

Jockum Nordström

Jockum Nordström’s work has been described as “quietly kinky”. It’s not an entirely inaccurate description, although ‘humorous’ is part of the mix, too. Executed with a slightly naïve hand, Nordström’s drawings and collage-style works mostly centre on themes relating to the Western world and complicated relationships. His art has been exhibited in notable galleries in Sweden and beyond, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, London’s Camden Art Centre and Nordiska Akvarellmuseet (the Nordic Watercolour Museum) in Skärhamn, in western Sweden. Nordström is based in Stockholm and married to the equally revered artist Karin Mamma Andersson.

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Jockum Nordström

The artist Jockum Nordström.

Photo: Karl Melander

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Jockum Nordström

Photo: Karl Melander

Jockum Nordström

Photo: Karl Melander

Jockum Nordström

Photo: Karl Melander

Karin Mamma Andersson and Jockum Nordström

Photo: Karl Melander

Kent Karlsson

Gothenburg-born Kent Karlsson is a multidisciplinary talent with a career stretching back decades. Drawing on religion, politics and history, he’s perhaps best known for his large-scale works depicting churches in novel guises. One of these – ‘Temple of Doubt and Hope’ – appears like an illusion as it floats on water near Gothenburg's ferry port. Made from perforated stainless steel, the poetic work changes appearance from translucent to solid depending on the angle from which you’re viewing it. Another Kent Karlsson church to discover, ‘Absit Omen’, forms part of the renowned sculpture park Konst på Hög (Art on the Mound) in Kumla, in central Sweden.

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"Terror Blues" by Kent Karlsson

Artwork with the title "Terror Blues" by artist Kent Karlsson.

Photo: Mats Ringqvist

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"Terror Blues" by Kent Karlsson

Photo: Mats Ringqvist

"Temple of Doubt and Hope" by Kent Karlsson

Photo: Mats Ringqvist

"Temple of Doubt and Hope" by Kent Karlsson

Photo: Urban Höglund

Dan Wolgers

With a Dada-esque approach to art, Dan Wolgers likes to amuse his audience, inviting them to question the very nature of the art scene. One of his most famous works appeared in the 1992 edition of Telefonkatalogen (Sweden’s phone directory catalogue) – in the shape of his own phone number. You’ll find this piece exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, while the Louvre in Paris is another world-renowned establishment that has showcased Wolger’s art. On his Swedish home turf, head to Fotografiska (the Museum of Photography) in Stockholm, outside which his sculpture ‘Torso’ proudly stands.

Klara Lidén

Born in 1979, Klara Lidén is an alumna of Konstfack, Sweden’s largest university of arts, crafts and design. Working in a multidisciplinary way, her art comes in many guises – from sculpture and installations to video art. She likes to “un-build” and repackage familiar elements found in urban and domestic environments. As part of the 2007 solo exhibition ‘Unheimlich Manöver’, she moved all the contents of her home into Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, whose permanent collection also includes many of the artist’s works. Currently based in Berlin, Lidén is represented internationally by renowned galleries such as London’s Sadie Coles HQ.

Mats Gustafson

New York-based artist and illustrator Mats Gustafson has carved a niche for himself in the fashion world with a distinctive breed of watercolour work. He also likes to use pastel and paper cut-outs. Using sweeping and seemingly simple brushstrokes, Gustafson – who was born in 1951 in Mjölby, in southern Sweden, started his career in the field of stage design. He has teamed up with a diverse range of high-end brands and publications over decades, including Dior, Tiffany & Co, Hermés, Comme des Garçons and Vogue. You’ll find his work exhibited at Swedish museums and galleries, including Moderna Museet and Nordiska Akvarellmuseet (the Nordic Watercolour Museum).

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"Sten 31" painted by Mats Gustafson

Watercolour painting titled ‘Sten 31/ Stone 31’ made by artist Mats Gustafson in 2002.

Photo: Nordiska Akvarellmuseet

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"Sten 31" painted by Mats Gustafson

Photo: Nordiska Akvarellmuseet

Mats Gustafson's "Necklace (Tiffany & Co)"

Photo: Nordiska Akvarellmuseet

"Coat Dress" (Azzedine Alaïa)

Photo: Nordiska Akvarellmuseet