FULL SPEED AHEAD
Many perceive it as problematic when the Swedish flag is not at the top of a flagpole. The flag and the very word nationalism are mined territory, or at least tainted to the degree that it is best not to have a flag at all. A Swede does not willingly risk treading on anyone’s toes, let alone being associated with intolerance. But in the work “Full fräs” (Full Speed Ahead) the Swedish flag is in focus: a whirring, stormy assembly of Swedish flags attached to a sprawl of poles. The work swishes and whizzes, helped by small fans and larger support wheels – the latter reminiscent of rusty carriages or derelict industry.
In his work KANON, Peter Johansson is taking pot-shots at the Swedish idyll and the idealised classic Swedish countryside. The work reflects a disintegrated pastoral Sweden with pierced cross-stitched embroideries of red-painted cottages. Such embroideries have been common for generations in Swedish homes.
Dalarna is the landscape in the heart of Sweden that since the late 19th century has been flaunted as the national-romantic face of the real Sweden, at the same time as it has been exploited with devilish precision by the tourist industry.
With a father who was a traditional kurbits painter and a mother who ran a waffle café for ski tourists, you could say that Peter’s art is steeped in self-irony and tests the limits between what is considered good art and kitsch.
In recent years he has increasingly turned his artistic attention to similar phenomena in other cultures and countries, while exploring his family’s dark secrets.
Above all he wants his art to affect people by being physical, direct and highly visual – and preferably also funny.
Peter Johansson calls his artistry a 30-year exploration of Swedishness. In sculptures and installations he has in an unbridled and successful way taken on cherished Swedish phenomena such as the Dala horse, Falukorv sausage, folk dancing and red cottages.