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Johan Röing

Johan Röing is the most recently arrived artist at Kosta Boda. He is known primarily as a sculptor, and studied for seven years at the legendary Düsseldorf Art Academy during the institution’s heyday in the 80s. That was not long after the school’s controversial, pioneering professor and shaman, Joseph Beuys – one of the biggest names in twentieth-century art – had been kicked out of the school. 

The academy in Düsseldorf is one of the most important educational institutions of post-war art. Many of the biggest German artists studied there – including, in addition to Beuys, Gerard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Candida Höfer and Katharina Sieverding. Johan Röing’s classmates included artists such as Thomas Schütte and Katharina Fritsch, trendsetters in photography such as Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, and others. Teachers during Röing’s time at the academy included Gerard Richter, British sculptor Tony Cragg, Korean video art pioneer Nam June Paik and other world-famous artists.

The legacy of the rigorous school in Düsseldorf is evident in Johan Röing’s art in the form of a special power and the uncompromising nature of his exploration of materials. In addition to sculpture, Röing also works with painting and photography. He stayed in Germany for a decade after his time at the academy in Düsseldorf before moving home to Skåne. “I couldn’t put down roots there,” he says. Since 1996, Röing has lived and worked in Fuglie in Söderslätt, and in Malmö. In 2019, Moderna Museet in Malmö presented a retrospective of his work.

Wood has been Johan Röing’s primary sculptural material. He is known for his wooden sculptures, which are both raw and masterfully shaped with a chainsaw and angle grinder. “Wood has built up my artistry,” as Röing says. Over time, his sculptures have evolved from figurative, with people and animals, to a greater degree of abstraction. He relies on feeling and intuition in his work. As he describes it, he allows the intrinsic desire and properties of the material to guide the process.

Glass was a new material for Johan Röing when he first went to Kosta Boda in 2019. His fascination was immediate. “It’s a wildly intriguing material. I’m completely sold on glass and will work with it for the rest of my life, without a doubt. There are tons of possibilities and so much that hasn’t been done. I really like that you can achieve such incredible definition in the material. There are also a lot of exciting possibilities to explore with overlay, underlay, and different levels of transparency.”

In his experimental work with glass, as always in his art, Johan Röing is searching for the material’s “inner truth.” “You have to be careful with the allure,” he says. “You have to be as hard as glass itself. I’ve experimented with hand-polished finishes, but it doesn’t work; it’s too pretty. I don’t use the color pink for it to look nice. It’s about enticing an inner logic out of the material, standing alone with the material, a little like how Auguste Rodin or Bruce Nauman work. I’m also inspired by artists like Picasso, Rosemarie Trockel, Philip Guston and Louise Bourgeois, and how they relate to the material.” “My roots are in abstract constructivism, but with postmodernism as an antithesis,” adds Johan. “I strive for ultra-precise sloppiness – a super synthesis.”

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