I went to see Krister Henriksson (best known in the UK for his role as the Swedish detective Wallander) performing in Doktor Glas at Wyndhams Theatre in London’s West End, the other night. As mentioned earlier in this blog, I had already seen the play when it was on in Stockholm but there is a lot to absorb and ponder and I enjoyed seeing it again although not quite as much as I did in Stockholm. This may have been because sadly the theatre was only about half-full, as opposed to a packed auditorium at Dramaten in Stockholm which made for a great atmosphere.
Heriksson was excellent in a highly intense role and the language (late nineteenth century Swedish) is, at moments, really beautiful. Doktor Glas, a classic Swedish novel by Hjalmar Söderberg, published in 1905, is brought alive by Henriksson. As one of the Swedish friends I went with commented, his character is much more likable on stage than in the book. One can’t help but have sympathy for his desperate, yearning unrequieted love. The play only runs for another two weeks so hurry to see it!
Doktor Glas runs at Wyndham’s Theatre until 11th May 2013.
Not quite sure what to make of the latest Nordic crime drama to hit BBC4’s popular foreign language series slot at 9pm on Saturday evenings; Swedish bestselling novelist’s Arne Dahl’s The Blinded Man, has not immediately gripped me. Unlike The Killing or The Bridge, this is less Nordic Noir and more of a cop series featuring a hit team of detectives, assembled from all over Sweden, to solve a major case. The team is led by Jenny Hutlin whom the author himself has said resembles Jane Tennison of Prime Suspect.
The story is fast moving (several of increasingly gruesome murders in the first series alone plus a good dosage of Estonian maffia). However so far, I am missing a fascinating character such as the diabetic, opera loving Wallander; the brilliant, emotionally repressed workholic Sarah Lund or the fascinating, possible Asperger’s sufferer Saga from The Bridge. The Blinded Man has got me absorbed in the way The Killing very quickly succeeded in doing. However, there are plenty more episodes to go thus much more time for character development so perhaps I should give it another go.
Helene Scherfbeck, Costume Picture I (Girl with Orange, The Baker’s Daughter), 1908-1909, copyright Finnish National Gallery, Central Art Archives, photo Hannu Aaltonen.
I have just received a catalogue of a stunning looking exhibition- Nordic Art The Modern Breakthrough 1860-1920, currently showing at the Groninger Museum in Holland and moving to the Munich Kunsthalle at the end of May. The exhibition gives a comprehensive overview of landscape, portrait and interior scenes from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, during a hugely rich period of artistic output in the Nordic countries. Big names such as Edvard Munch and August Strindberg sit along side less well known artists such as L.A. Ring and Jens Ferdinand Wilumsen.
I gave the curator, David Jackson, Professor of Russian and Scandinavian Art Histories at the University of Leeds a call. David is of the opinion that art history of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century is hugely Francophile resulting in the work produced in the Nordic countries being widely glanced over.
‘It’s important that people see that art outside of France was thriving and indeed is often, to my mind, better than the French product.’
There are some stunning images in the exhibition ranging from the familiar, such as Anders Zorn’s Midsummer Dance, depicting villagers from the region of Dalarna celebrating Midsummer Night dancing around a maypole, in local costume, to the unfamilar such as Finnish artist, Pekka Halonen’s striking image of a young woman washing her clothes in the ice. The works are a fascinating documentation of life and society of the time.
Anders Zorn, Midsummer Dance, 1897, copyright Nationalmusum, Stockholm.
The unique light of the north is evident in works such as Peder Severin Krøyer’s Summer Evening at South Beach, Skagen. Portraits include a wonderful Whistleresque portrait by Helene Scherfbeck, best known for her increasingly abstract and disturbing self portraits. Illustrative works are also on display- Swedish childrens’ writer John Bauer’s delicate watercolours of trolls are exquisite. I could go on and on. Jackson hopes that the exhibition will increase the international awareness of Nordic art, leading to further research and more exhibitions; given the quality and interest of the work on display, I have a strong feeling that it will. I very much hope to make it to Munich in June!
John Bauer, Brother St.Martin and the Three Trolls, 1913, copyright Nationalmuseum, Stockholm
Nordic Art,The Modern Breakthrough1860-1920 is currently on at the Groninger Museum and then at the Munich Kunsthalle from 30th May to 6th October.
Savannah Miller, sister of the pretty, papparazzi magnet Sienna, has launched a line of clothing called Savannah for Swedish online retailer nelly.com. Savannah is a talented designer who got a first class honours degree from Central Saint Martins; she tends to be overshadowed by her sister so, following their joint fashion label Twenty8Twelve, it’s good that she is ploughing her own path in fashion. Savannah is an affordable line of everyday basics- a touch Bohemian, vintage-inspired with some pretty, feminine dresses. Nelly.com has a range of young, fun fashion from a range of brands.
My friend Andres is holding an exhibition next week, of the etchings of Gothenburg artist, Kent Karlsson at his St.James’s gallery. I saw Karlsson’s work at an exhibition held at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence in November, and also met the artist (an eccentric with a twinkle in his eye is how I would describe him). His prints are quirky and fun and are priced at £474 unframed or £575 framed.
The exhibition runs from 10th-20th April at Orion Contemporary, 10, Georgian House, 10 Bury Street, London SW1. Viewing by appointment.
In Scandinavia, people decorate their homes with birch twigs decorated with coloured feathers, painted eggs and ‘Easter witches’ at Easter (in pagan times, people believed that Maundy Thursday was the most popular night of the year for witches to convene with demons). The birch twigs are apparently a reminder of Christ’s suffering on the cross. We couldn’t find any birch twigs but picked some branches with bright yellow flowers from the garden from which to hang our painted eggs.