“Jag känner en utsatthet när jag vistas i naturen. Naturen skrämmer mig och jag bearbetar rädslor när jag tecknar” (Jeff Olsson)
There is something out of place in Jeff Olsson’s art. His delicate charcoal drawings are magnificent and magnetic, yet never reassuring nor at peace. They depict a world which is dark and tense when quiet, and humorous, grotesque and violent when action takes place. It is a realm where lonely raving lunatics ride vast plains and solitary wild animals haunt the dark wilderness.
Soaked in a strong Americana flavour and deeply inspired by Finnish Tango, Jeff Olsson’s art embraces these two peculiar cultural phenomena of the Nordic culture. The love for anything Americana stems from the history of migration to North America during the XIX Century and it has become part of the folklore in Swedish rural culture. The Tango, imported in Finland at the beginning of 1900, has developed into a genre of its own and it’s now fully part of the Finnish tradition. Olsson’s depiction of these traditional imaginaries is imbued with a strange sense of nostalgia resulting in a bewildering, fascinating and melancholic vision.
This acquired folklore helps to understand where this artist from the small town of Kristinehamn finds his visual alphabet, but there is something more at play in Olsson’s drawings. Something metaphysical and inhuman, scary and suspenseful dominates and humorously rules his dark and mostly black and white artworks. A cowboy and a bird overlay in a symbolic metamorphosis – are we witnessing a transformation or is it the manifestation of a spiritual connection? The natural and human worlds intertwine in Olsson’s art as a metaphor for an intimate conversation. In fact, it is Jeff Olsson own emotional, dark and comic self that comes through in this often nightmarish fairy realm.
He Was Grooming Someone Else’s Horse is a manifesto of this approach. The evocative title, which alludes to the conflict existing between ownership and caring, brings forward again an animal symbol in a rural setting. Once more a visual figure of speech becomes for Olsson a way to share an intimate question. He Was Grooming Someone Else’s Horse is also his first exhibition in his hometown Gothenburg since 2009, an emotional reunion with the city he is working in and a new occasion to explore further the humorous and dark realm that Jeff Olsson depicts for us.
Jeff Olsson (b.1981, Kristinehamn, Sweden) lives and works in Göteborg. He is educated at Valand Art Academy (2003-2008) and he had solo exhibitions (selected) at Galleri Magnus Karlsson in Stockholm (Sweden, 2018), Linköpings Konsthall (with Joakhim Ojanen, Sweden, 2016) and Jack Hanley Gallery in New York (USA, 2013). He has been included in group shows at Gothenburg Museum of Art (Sweden, 2015), Strandverket in Marstrand (Sweden 2015), Konsthallen-Bohusläns Museum in Uddevalla (Sweden, 2014), Garemijn Hall in Bruges (Belgium, 2012), Needles and Pens, San Francisco (USA, 2010), Göteborgs Konsthall (Sweden, 2008) and Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm (Sweden, 2008). He was exhibited also in fairs as Market Art Fair (Stockholm, 2014), Chart Art Fair (Copenhagen, 2014), Frieze Art Fair (London, 2013) and The Armory Show (New York, 2012 and 2011). He Was Grooming Someone Else’s Horse is his first solo show with Nevven Gallery and his first solo exhibition in Göteborg since 2009.