Exhibition: April 30 – June 21, 2016
Curated by Greger Ulf Nilsson
Opening hours: Wed-Sat 12-18h, and by appointment
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Denise Grünstein is part of the generation that leads and inspires the next generation. Her ability to constantly recreate oneself anew, try out unexpected solutions and push the boundaries of photography makes her one of Sweden’s most interesting photographers. Early in her career, in the 1980s, Grünstein made a name for herself as a top portrait photographer, depicting the cultural elite for the eras most prestigious magazines, always adding a new level of understanding to the portrait’s subject.
Grünstein, who often uses a large format camera, has increasingly delved deeper into her own skill as an artist in a number of art projects that have seen her become one of the foremost figures in gestalt photography. She constantly stands out from the prevailing norm in contemporary art by asserting romantic imagery in an age that is anything but romantic. She wants to tell stories from an early age and likens her pictures to scenes pulled out of a fictional narrative. The suites of images do not tell a story with a beginning and an end. Instead they are characterised by an emotional structure in which photograph is added to photograph in a complex interplay.
In 1996-97, Denise Grünstein made several trips to seek out her family’s cultural roots in former Eastern Europe. One trip started in Berlin and went through the former GDR, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and St. Petersburg. The resulting 17 images, with the collective name Zone V, was first exhibited at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm in 1998. The title comes from the American photographer Ansel Adams and his way of seeing photography as a state between light and dark. Grundemark Nilsson Gallery is proud to present six of these works in the exhibition. The series has neither a definite order nor any particular epic direction. Instead the photographs seem to oppose one another through their different geographical and cultural backgrounds, and it seems also impossible to track down any unity at the level of subject matter. The series also look at architecture through examples like a ballroom and a theatre, witnesses to a sophisticated cultural life of the past, which exists only as a memory. We also find clothes, which no longer hint at but speak openly of the extent of the internments of the Holocaust.
In contrast to the symbolic tension of these photographs, the images of clouds come across as a moment of freedom until you look at their titles and become aware of the fact that the photographs were taken at the Auschwitz concentration camp, something that also affects our relation to nature as a neutral territory. Denise Grünstein has not tried to document the present, but rather an Eastern Europe that no longer exists. In this way, Grünstein opens photography to a memory and thereby to history.
The series Wunder consists of colour photos of an interior built in a corner of her studio. Set against a backdrop of muted nuances demurely suggestive of the 1940s, is a female figure in a marble-coloured body stocking, a female look on the body. The figure has reliquished the classical physical ideal for a biomorphous body that occasionally takes on grotesquely irregular proportions. Grünstein wanted to create pictures of how it feels, not what it looks like to be human.
The purpose of the constructed area, the surreal red floor and the constructed bodies was to take the photograph as far as I could from its property to (in some extent) relate to the real world.” (D. Grünstein)
Denise Grünstein was born 1950 in Helsinki, Finland. She lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. Collections (selection): National Museum, Stockholm, Moderna museet, Stockholm, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland, Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Sweden, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway, Jeanette Bonnier, Stockholm, Magasin 3, Stockholm. The exhibition is curated by Greger Ulf Nilsson.
Grundemark Nilsson Gallery was established 2007 in Stockholm, Sweden, and 2010 in Berlin, Germany. The private owned gallery represents an international diverse portfolio with a particular focus on the new generation of contemporary photo-based artists from Northern Europe, complemented by renowned masters such as Christer Strömholm and Dawid. Over the years we have established an international platform for our artists through regular gallery exhibitions, documented in an annual catalogue. We are aiming to realize projects in and outside our galleries to promote our artists career.
We do participate regularly in international art and photography fairs such as Aipad in New York, Paris Photo and other contemporary art fairs around the globe. Apart from our exhibition program we are engaged in art-related activities such as book productions, panel discussions and artist talks. On April 9, the gallery opens a new location in Stockholm at Sibyllegatan 26.