Johan Nobell °1963 Gammelgarn, Sweden
The works of Johan Nobell can best be described as landscape painting, a genre with a longstanding tradition but especially popular in bourgeois circles during the 19th and 20th centuries. His paintings are somewhat modest in terms of size, but the space they depict is immense because there are few or no reference points to determine the scale of what is being depicted. Figuration and abstraction come together in a bizarre, surreal way. On the one hand the landscapes feel ominous, apocalyptic even, but at the same time Nobell incorporates cartoonesque figures and motives keeping them light-hearted as well. The ominous nature apparently has to do with our environmental concerns. Explosions, a melting iceberg, heat: everything seems to suggest that the landscapes are in transition and will never be the same again. Through his re-imagining of a classical genre, grotesque exaggerations and societal concerns, Nobell distinguishes himself as a worthy successor to Ensor.