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”Nordic artists are really sweeping through the international art world for the moment”

We meet Market Art Fair’s CEO and Director with another edition of the leading premium art fair opening today and the artist duo combining their different works in a special exhibition.

Market Art Fair’s CEO and Director Carl Sundevall describes himself as ”somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades”. The former journalist and editor for various magazines started doing concept design for nightclubs and restaurants in Stockholm such as Spy Bar and Tyge & Sessil, before he got headhunted to Market Art Fair.

— The fair was founded back in 2006 by Nordic art galleries who wanted a premium event better suitable for their artists, than the knick-knack fairs available at the time. Since then there’s been quite an explosion of art fairs all over the world, to the level that some of the top collectors even started talking about a ”fairtigue”, Sundvall says, continuing,

— At the same time, Market Art Fair is doing better than ever. The main reason being our clear Nordic focus in relation to the fact that Nordic artists are really sweeping through the international art world for the moment. One important factor is also the involvement of the art community of Stockholm, with satellite activities happening all around town under the Stockholm Art Week umbrella. We might be in the center of attention during the week, but visitors should be sure to check out some of the other great stuff happening as well!

And what are the highlights for this year’s fair?

— I’m happy to say we have a better line-up than ever, with world-class names such as Olafur Eliasson, Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg and Torbjørn Rødland being presented at the fair. We also greatly value our younger galleries and artists, such as LOYAL and Gallery Steinsland Berliner and artists Yngvild Saeter and Malin Gabriella Nordin.

How’s the Nordic art industry doing today?

— Economy wise it’s doing great, with any recession still being but a distant cloud in the sky. There is plenty of buying power on a local level, with Stockholm being number six in Europe when it comes to the density of ultra-high-net-worth individuals. We can also see an increased level of interest from the corporate world when it comes to investing in and supporting the local art scene, with Goldman Sachs joining us as lead partner for the 2019 fair being a great example. Combine this with Stockholm and Copenhagen constantly trading places of being number one in the EU when it comes to creativity and innovation, and we have several things pointing to the Nordic region being an even more important player in the global art world of the future, says Sundevall.

— At the same time the art gallery model is being challenged, and hence the resources being spent on cultivating young art. While young artists starting to promote themselves is refreshing in one sense, there are alarming figures showing how much more time they are spending on administration and business rather than the actual artworks. How that will transform the industry and the quality and innovation of contemporary art on a macro level is yet to be seen, but it definitely opens up for both positive and negative scenarios for the future.

Which other Nordic artists would you like to recommend?

— To name some of my personal favourites among the younger artists we have Liva Isakson Lundin, a steel-bending sculptor who was presented at the fair last year by Wetterling Gallery and is currently being shown on Bonniers Konsthall. While you’re at it, check out Linnea Rygaard, represented by Cecilia Hillström Gallery and who graduated from Kungliga Konsthögskolan the same year as Liva but rather bends perspectives than metal in her paintings. I can also recommend Theresa Traore Dahlberg, who works with video, photography, and sculpture to lift questions of post-colonialism, power structures, and feminism. She’s represented by Andréhn-Schiptjenko who presents the mentioned Yngvild Saeter at Market Art Fair.

In Stockholm, the artist duo Jacqueline Östlind and Thomas ”OKOK” Gunnarsson, who’s also a rapper and has exhibited his solo work in New York, Paris, Lublin, Osaka, and Kyoto, started painting and drawing together last fall. Their latest exhibition ”Utbölingar (Outcasts) & Influencers” is currently on display at Ling Long in Stockholm.

— It consists of nine drawings and a couple of canvases, all created in a joint venture, the duo says. We’re painting on the same paintings, back and forth as well as on our own. It’s sometimes a struggle since there’s two artistic views trying to fit in the same piece. You really have to put your ego aside to make it work. We’d most definitely not have reached the same pieces of art if we’d been painting by ourselves. Our styles connect in a very interesting way.

Regarding the future of art fairs, in order to avoid the mentioned ”fairtigue”, Carl Sundevall is clear about the format needs to evolve into something more.

— We are currently looking into how to involve other creative industries to add new content and reach new audiences, Sundevall says. Everyone’s talking about fashion and art right now, but I am much more fascinated by video games and art for the moment. We have a talk together with the Swedish Games Industry today at 14:30, which is a good place to start if you are as fascinated as me.

Market Art Fair at Liljevalchs in Stockholm. Photography: Jean-Baptiste Béranger
Work by artist duo Jacqueline Östlind and Thomas ”OKOK” Gunnarsson
Carl Sundevall. Photography: Christopher Hunt