press release

"Do you still think it's right to rebel?"
"Today, I think it's more important to clean up."

Women cleaning up in their homes, in the art world and in society. With the recurring themes of power structures and social relations, Gittan Jönsson's work is as willful and strong as it is topical. The first major retrospective presentation of Gittan Jönsson's work, the exhibition culminates in the new film Parallel Lines, in which the artist searches for traces of the feminist movement in Stockholm and Berlin, asking herself what became of all the rebellious efforts and actions?

When the 1960s turned into the 1970s, several of Sweden's young artists had had a couple of turbulent years behind them and the rallying slogan of the women's movement, "The Personal is Political," lay ahead. Gittan Jönsson's oeuvre manifests this shift. Via poster art, illustrations, drawings, painting, sculpture and film, she has captured the ideas of the time and the possibilities of art.

Being one of Sweden's most prominent artists, Gittan Jönsson's artistic career spans more than six decades. Like many women artists of her generation, Gittan Jönsson has depicted her own experiences, describing her reality and women's invisible history. Jönsson's work helps to remind us how the organisation of everyday life has characterised society. Vacuum cleaners and shared custody. History and Realpolitik. Consumption and socialist utopias. Women in domestic environments wielding washing-up brushes or paintbrushes appear in her work in various guises, as in self-portraits or portrayals of the housewife making everyday chores. Through her alter ego "The Hooverer," Gittan Jönsson took the feminist struggle further in her eagerness to not only remove dust in general, but to clean up in the bigger picture—make the world a better place, tear down walls and make the environment and the air cleaner and easier to breathe—in the art world and the world at large. While constantly cleaning, "The Hooverer" visits the works of Anders Zorn, Pablo Picasso, Caspar David Friedrich, Francis Bacon, Auguste Rodin, among others.

Since the 1970s, Gittan Jönsson's painting has gone through many phases, serving as a way of filtering the world and as a place to reflect on her own situation. It was film that opened the way for a new pictorial language and a focus on painting. Working as a property manager and assistant to, among others, Swedish artists Carl-Johan and Marie-Louise De Geer (Ekman) and to the film director Jan Troell, she became aware of the mixture of illusion and authentic realities, using the pictorial space as a stage set to convey the experience of inner tension and conflict. In her later paintings, Gittan Jönsson's interest in formal aspects becomes apparent. Her political commitment is evident, as is the self-referential dimension, but now as part of painting that is more oriented towards various painterly strategies. With clear references to artists such as Franz Ackermann and Julie Mehretu, two painters who use their canvases as a surface to reflect on places and how they appear to us in the form of maps, economic and infrastructure systems, Jönsson uses similar materials in her works, especially from her new hometown Berlin allowing historical events to intrude. In both the wider perspective with references to Rosa Luxemburg or Wilma Rudolph and in the smaller, intimate sphere, where elements of her earlier works visit the paintings.

With a comprehensive survey of Gittan Jönsson's production over the years, it becomes apparent that she is an artist who never allows herself to be defined or explicitly identifiable. Instead she creates a woven fabric of thousands of invisible threads that give meaning and connects her own life with the world around her.

Curated by Bettina Pehrsson.