Dick Bengtsson

Moderna Museet | Stockholm

The odd, disconcerting quality of his paintings, the puzzling clumsiness of his in fact extremely well-executed drawing, remove Dick Bengtsson’s work from the sphere of solid provincialism where superficially they seem to belong. At the same time their traditional look excludes them from the ranks of the avant-garde. It is only now, with this carefully chosen retrospective, that Bengtsson, who has exhibited works of this kind for twenty years, has become something more than an artist’s artist.

A field, a stone wall, a church among trees—these emblems, in the Swedish tradition of “honest,” intimate painting, convey a sense of security and Nordic melancholy. Or so it would seem, but for another emblem in the lower left corner of the canvas—a swastika. In this work from the late ’60s, Landskap med kyrka (Landscape with church), Bengtsson confronts us with a dilemma whose only “solution” appears

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