Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presents from 24 June untill 24 September 2017 the largest solo exhibition of work by the Swedish artist Gunnel Wåhlstrand (Uppsala 1974). Wåhlstrand makes realistic large-scale ink wash paintings of monumental landscapes, compelling portraits and serene interiors with intriguing compositions. The exhibition features 23 works by Wåhlstrand – giving visitors a chance to see the majority of her very limited production of only 35 works total completed over the last 15 years.
Taking a closer look at the ink wash paintings by Swedish artist Gunnel Wåhlstrand (Uppsala 1974), it is easy to understand why they take the artist months to complete. She builds up her images in countless layers of diluted ink, cautiously preserving the light as she gradually fills the paper—any mistake is irreversible. The image slowly emerges like a photographic print in developing fluid. Ordinary family snapshots are transformed into something timeless and universal.
While studying at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Wåhlstrand discovered ink wash painting at an exhibition with Marlene Dumas. During the same period, she read Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, in which he describes searching through photographs for the quintessential image of his dead mother. This struck a chord since Wåhlstrand never knew her father. In fact, the only connection that she had to him was a box of family photographs. To fill the silence surrounding his life and disappearance, she began to use these photographs as a point of departure for her paintings. She started spending months closely examining and painting each photograph, thereby developing a unique visual language.