Critics’ Picks

Jockum Nordström, Jag var en dålig hund (I Was a Bad Dog), 2012. Collage, aquarelle and graphite on paper, 56 x 44".

Jockum Nordström, Jag var en dålig hund (I Was a Bad Dog), 2012. Collage, aquarelle and graphite on paper, 56 x 44".

Villeneuve d'Ascq

Jockum Nördstrom

Lille Métropole Musée d'Art Moderne (LAM)
1 Allée du Musée
February 16–May 19, 2013

Son of an art professor, graduate of the Konstfack (Sweden’s largest art school), and married to painter Karin Mamma Andersson, Jockum Nördstrom is no outsider artist. However, because of his naive-style drawings and collages, he’s often compared to the likes of Henry Darger and Vojislav Jakic. It is fitting, then, that his first museum survey in France is at the LaM, home to the country’s largest public collection of art brut. Spanning eighteen years, this comprehensive exhibition brings together over eighty drawings, collages, and sculptures.

Like Darger’s scrolls, Nördstrom’s works on paper feature a recurring cast of characters in various absurd, often sexualized, scenarios. An early collage, The Final End of Childhood, 2001, suggests an incestuous orgy: A woman kneeling on the dinner table exposes her panties to the viewer while a young girl caresses an older man’s bare bottom. Less racy tableaux such as Human Form Divine, 2010, evoke nineteenth-century French Épinal motifs—popular prints whose simple, cartoonish imagery typically narrates religious or historical events. Rather than being didactic, however, Nördstrom’s collaged watercolor cutouts of farmers, hunters, deer, dogs, sea creatures, and varied vegetation are willfully enigmatic. Similarly perplexing despite their apparent folksy style, his pencil drawings of rural landscapes, nautical scenes, and contemporary cityscapes are characterized by an inconsistent sense of scale, multipoint perspectives, and a hodgepodge of present-day and period fashions.

Meticulously constructed using cardboard scraps and matchboxes, Nordström’s sculptures also blend reality and fantasy, creating a three-dimensional landscape that is both familiar and disorienting. Precise models of functional architecture—including the high-rise apartments where Nordström was raised (The Large Livingroom, 2008) and the hospital where he was born (Lasarett, 2009)—appear abstract and whimsical in the presence of precarious free-form constructions such as Goat, 2011.