Markus Åkesson created headlines in 2017 when his painting Sleeping Beauty was removed from the entrance of the school that had commissioned the work. The debate that followed highlighted art’s power in society and how much public artworks can affect us.
Many of the recurring themes in Markus Åkesson’s imagery create recognition connected to fairytales. They touch upon fantasies, masks and dream worlds. Sleeping Beauty is naturally named from the fairy tale, a story that brings up questions of purity, innocence and real love. Common, existential questions that man and society have always contented with, questions that are interesting to raise in a school environment.
Already from the start, the forest as a theme was part of the commission of the artwork for the Swedish school. The forest is a common allegory around teaching and learning. In Markus Åkesson’s art he often appeals to our imagination and our fantasies, he lures us on to our own, internal paths.
Markus Åkesson is from Småland. His studio is in Nybro – surrounded by forests and in many ways the epitome of Småland. The surrounding forests lie in wait, seemingly boundless, making it impossible to grasp the horizon. In his painting there is often a density. The subjects are close, rich in detail. It is as though a gaze or a camera has stopped, fascinated by a certain pattern, or the light hitting and highlighting a part of a body: a neck, a finger, the shiny tip of a nose, a blushing cheek.
In the exhibition at Kalmar konstmuseum visitors will be able to immerse themselves in Markus Åkesson’s rich detailing and depictions of life and death. The majority of the art works are in private collections, making the exhibition a unique opportunity to see them in real life – an experience which is always different from watching reproductions. The materiality and sheer size of the art work (Sleeping Beauty measures almost three meters in width) is also something to reflect upon and bring into one’s encounter with the art.
The exhibition and Markus Åkesson’s artistic practice will also be set in relation to borrowed pieces from Jönköpings Läns Museum and Kalmar konstmuseum’s own collection.
Curator: Joanna Sandell