The Bruno Mathsson Hall at Kosta Art Gallery in Kosta, Sweden: May 26 – October 2, 2022
Internationally acclaimed artist couple from the forests of Småland explore an inner dream world
Ellen Ehk Åkesson and Markus Åkesson are an artist couple who live and work together in the forests of Småland, the region from which they both hail. From here, their art reaches the entire globe. Since 2021, the couple has shared a studio in Kosta, in addition to the one in Pukeberg’s old glassworks by their home outside of Nybro.
Ellen and Markus both grew up in the depths of the forests, a few kilometers away from one another. One might say that the woods, its mythology and mystique, inspire the work of both artists. The woods also appear in the joint exhibition that Ellen and Markus are presenting at the Bruno Mathsson Hall in Kosta, The trailing moss and mystic glow ( May 26 – October 2, 2022).
”The borrowed title, The trailing moss and mystic glow, is originally from a song by Bob Dylan*. It summarizes the way we feel about this place, – something mystical, glowing in the forest. It is also a tribute to the total artistic freedom we have been given. That the glassworks’ tradition of entrusting artists in their uncompromising pursuit of the creative process, is able to live on.”
This is the first time that the result of the new collaboration between the Ehk-Åkesson duo and Kosta Boda has been shown in a collected public exhibition.
“This is an exciting exhibition for us, as Ellen and Markus are important to the development we’ve been working on for the past few years, along with Johan Röing, whose work we’re showing at the same time,” says Maria Lomholt, head of art glass at Kosta Boda. “Ellen, Markus and Johan all represent both the artistic future and the proud creative tradition of the glassworks.”
Ellen Ehk Åkesson grew up with the old-growth forest outside of her home as her playground. Since childhood, she has been particularly bewitched by mushrooms – their supernatural beauty, and largely unexplored importance to life on earth and its emergence. Mushrooms are also the theme of a new collection she is showing at Kosta. Glass mushrooms are paired, among other things, with trees with big root systems in bronze, Night Trees, and other ceramic and class sculptures in which she has worked with a new technique to achieve an organic, bark-like look.
“I’m drawn to working with styles that I can’t completely control,” says Ellen. “I wanted to make a wonderland in offset scales – an internal place with things that influenced me as a child. Mushrooms are incredible. We don’t know very much about them. Trees communicate through mushrooms, for example. And they have chemical, shamanistic, psychedelic properties that are being researched more and more.”
“We’ve both always been interested in spiritualism,” says Markus. “You don’t always have to seek out mystical and poetic things on the other side of the world; these things can be found nearby.”
Markus Åkesson has become known internationally for his paintings. In this exhibition, he is presenting two large simultaneously surrealist and super-realist oil paintings**, based on his own pattern constructions, together with glass sculptures that he developed in collaboration with the glassblowers and other master craftspeople at the hot shop in Kosta. A collection of urns without openings is based on new applications of old, traditional cutting techniques, with mystical engraved symbols. There is also a collection of “burnt” glass sculptures which bear the title of the exhibition.
Both Ellen Ehk Åkesson and Markus Åkesson are represented by Berg Gallery in Stockholm and VIDA Museum on Öland. In addition, Markus is represented by Galerie Da-End in Paris, and Ellen by Galerie NeC in Paris. Both artists have had enormous success in Sweden and internationally and are represented in collections worldwide. Markus Åkesson recently had a successful exhibition at Berg Gallery during Stockholm’s Market Art Fair.
Written by Claes Britton.
*From the song “Moonlight” on Bob Dylan’s record Love and Theft, from 2001.
**“Witch riding backwards on a goat” and “The Book of Revelations.”