National therapy: Peter Johansson exhbition at Institute suédois

Artist Peter Johansson approaches the themes of nationalism and patriotism with a healthy dose of humour and self-mockery and a touch of provocation.

Peter Johansson is one of the most prominent Swedish artists of our time. He was born in 1964 in Sälen and educated at Konstfack and the Royal College of Arts in Stockholm. He has exhibited in Scandinavia and Germany and is represented in numerous public and private collections.

“There are many reasons to show Peter Johansson’s work in Paris right now,” Ewa Kumlin, director of the Swedish Institute in Paris, writes in the preface to the exhibition catalogue. “He is one of Sweden’s foremost contemporary artists and we are convinced that his art can bring new unexpected perspectives in the meeting with a French audience.”

For over thirty years, Peter Johansson has reinterpreted and distorted classic Swedish cultural symbols. He makes no distinction between high and low, nice and ugly: he has cut dala horses and packed them as goods in a meet counter, posed as sausage and dressed as the national  artist Anders Zorn. The new exhibition consists partly of works of art that have been exhibited before, and partly of works produced sepcially for the Swedish Institute in Paris.

“Peter Johansson has the ability to challenge and provoke, but always with unmistakable humor and a measure of self-criticism,” says Madeleine Sjöstedt, Director General of the Swedish Institute. “His new exhibition raises difficult questions about the symbolic value of our cultural heritage and by who and how it is created.”

National therapy consists of a collection of art objects, installations and photographs displayed in exhibition rooms, stairwells and garden and invites us to reflect on our relationship to concepts such as national and cultural identity.

The curator is Marion Alluchon, the Swedish Institute in Paris. The exhibition is produced with the support of the Cultural Council. The work The Tessin Cabinet (The Labyrinth) is produced in consultation with the Swedish National Museum, Sweden’s Art and Design Museum.

National therapy is the start of a season dedicated to showing how composite the image of a country is, how these images are created and how they are used. At the beginning of 2020, a number of different events will take place at the institute, including a panel discussion with Peter Johansson.