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New works by Johan Röing

Interview

22 / 05 / 01

The Cornelis Janssen gallery at Kosta Art Gallery in Kosta, Sweden: May 26 – October 2, 2022

Master sculptor seeks out the inner truth and logic of materials

Johan Röing is a sculptor who was trained at a challenging school — the legendary Kunstakademie Düsseldorf during its heyday in the 1980s, along with Tony Cragg and Irmin Kamp, and peers including Thomas Ruff, Thomas Schütte, Katarina Fritsch and Axel Lieber.

 

This legacy is evident in Johan’s powerful style and uncompromising approach to the material and its properties. He has become known in Sweden and internationally primarily for his works in wood, sculpted with a power saw. Since 2021, Johan Röing has been connected to Kosta Boda, where he has the artistic freedom to explore glass as a new sculptural material, in addition to wood.

 

“It’s an incredibly fascinating material,” says Johan. “I am entirely sold on glass and will continue to 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 sharpness in the material. You have to be careful with the allure. You have to be as hard as glass itself. I’ve tried to experiment with hand-polished finishes, for example, but it doesn’t work, it becomes too delightful.”

In his work as a sculptor, Johan Röing continuously seeks out the “inner truth” of the material. “I don’t use the color pink to make it look nice; I use it to bring out the inherent logic of the material. You have to stand alone with it and allow yourself to be guided by intuition,” he says.

 

At the exhibition in Kosta, Johan Röing is presenting three new collections of work – glass sculptures (both freestanding and wall-hung), wood sculptures, and sculptures in combinations of wood and glass. All objects are sculpted directly in the material, “without having been anywhere near a computer.” At the hot shop in Kosta, Johan has worked with the glassworks’ master glassblowers and cutters to make his glass sculptures. He describes his work as “leaning toward minimalism,” with a clean palette and a framework “like freezing rain, landing in clarity.”

 

“That’s how I view it now, but it remains to be seen how it will be later. I let myself be surprised. It’s about following my intuition and spatial sensibility, to get the whole thing to dance. With pictures, you can project, but with sculptures, you’re left with reality. They stand alone. My job is to find a way to combine, a path that matches, that achieves balance. So much is unpredictable. It’s like building a house. Architecture is indeed a form sculpture.”

After his studies in Düsseldorf, Johan Röing began his career in Germany. He moved home to Sweden in 1986 and lives and works in Fuglie on Söderslätt, south of Malmö. In 2019, Moderna Museet in Malmö presented a retrospective show of his work. In fall 2021, Röing had an acclaimed exhibition with photographer Gerry Johansson at Dorothée Nilsson Gallery in Berlin. In spring 2022, he presents the exhibition “Overworked” at Berg Gallery in Stockholm.

Written by Claes Britton.