We have come to know Jacob Dahlgren (born 1970 in Stockholm) as an artist who segues from the ideals of the form and mission of classic constructivism to works made from everyday objects available to everyone and underlining social coherence.
He may paint seemingly non-figurative modernist paintings and make video pieces or prints of stripes that are surprisingly based on the patterns of Dahlgren’s collection of t-shirts, at present numbering well over a thousand. He works with everyday objects: tin cans, disposable cups, clothes hangers, measures and even saws, constructing elegant entities from them that appear to be abstract.
Not only providing aesthetic pleasure, Dahlgren’s works surprise their viewers, arousing the joy of realisation. He seems to refine the everyday experience, reminding us that it is worth looking around us. At the same time, he carries on the heritage of constructivism, renewing and refreshing it, and bringing it to the present day.
The Not And Or works on show are composed of found and surplus materials. They are reliefs, the severest of which bring to mind the purely abstract compositions of Auguste Herbin (1882–1960) and Ben Nicholson (1894–1982). Others, in turn, appear to refer to the stylisation of comic strip and some to the experiments with materials of Italian Arte Povera of the 1960s and 1970s.
The works are spatial. They have openings in their covering surfaces, revealing the wall on which they are mounted and making it part of the work. Some of them can also be viewed from both sides and mounted freely in a space if so desired.
These works if any reveal how aware Dahlgren is of the history of art and other visual culture on the one hand, and on the other hand of his own specific quality and ability to stir the ingredients of the pot in a slightly different direction than previously.
Jacob Dahlgren has represented Sweden at the Venice Biennale. He has exhibited his work in the Nordic countries and over the past two years, among other venues at: Museum Ritter in Waldenbuch, Germany; Vögele Kultur Zentrum in Switzerland; The University of Hertfordshire in Great Britain; and the Guang Art Biennale at Guang’an Wusheng Baozhen, China. Jacob Dahlgren has also been shortlisted for the Ars Fennica Prize.
Garret Publications issued a large monograph on Dahlgren’s work in 2017.
Jacob Dahlgren has made several public works of art for locations in Sweden, Norway and Great Britain. His works are included in Swedish and Finnish public collections in addition to, among others, the Daimler Collection in Berlin and the collections of the University of Washington, the Seattle Museum of Modern Arti, Vehbi Koc Vakf in Istanbul, the Turkish National Gallery and the British Museum in London, as well as in numerous private collections in Europe and the United States.