January 10th 2022

UNAPOLOGETIC CONTENT.

January 3rd 2022

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2022!
WARM WISHES AND NEW ADVENTURES

December 13th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
MINYADES
An exhibition of paintings by Richard Höglund
The Bonnier Gallery, Miami
December 2021
A Catalogue Essay

December 6th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
MISCHA KUBALL
ReferenzRäume
Museum Morsbroich
5 December – 24 April 2022

November 29th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
ABOUT THE TREES
Thanksgiving 2021

November 25th 2021

UNAPOLOGETIC CONTENT.

November 15th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
THE WORLD MAP
Thanks to Mr Hide

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November 8th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
KOEN VANMECHELEN LABIOMISTA, GENK (BELGIUM)
The book launch and debate
“NOT TO BE MISTAKEN”, November, 4th

October 25th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
OCTOBER 2021
"Linda Karshan: The Covid-19 Conversation"
Still in the limelight

October 18th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
IDE TO POLAND
POSTSCRIPT PARIS

October 11th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
IDE TO POLAND III
Out of the oven
Warsaw Sept 28-Oct 3

October 5th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
HELMUT FEDERLE
NOVARTIS Campus – Forum 3, Basel
DIENER & DIENER - WIEDERIN
2005

October 2nd 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
BETWEEN LISTENING AND TELLING
Esther Shalev Gerz
Nuit Blanche Paris,
Tonight

September 27th 2021

UNAPOLOGETIC CONTENT.

September 20th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
ART BASEL HALL 2.0C1
René Schmitt and ART & LANGUAGE
THESE SCENES, 2016

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September 6th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
MISCHA KUBALL
Wolfsburg and Utopias

August 30th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
IDE TO POLAND II
A new expedition on the CERAMIC & FOOD ROUTE
Bright blue and white ceramics fill the dining room with warmth and visual appeal

August 23rd 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
IDE TO POLAND I
A new expedition on the CERAMIC & FOOD ROUTE
Starts today in Warsaw through 3 October

August 2nd 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
ESTHER SHALEV-GERZ
SUMMER IN PARIS

July 30th 2021

UNAPOLOGETIC CONTENT.

July 26th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
ARCO MADRID,
1st Art Fair in 2 years

July 23rd 2021

UNAPOLOGETIC CONTENT.

July 19th 2021

UNAPOLOGETIC CONTENT.

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July 16th 2021

UNAPOLOGETIC CONTENT.

July 12th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
IN THE ARTIST'S STUDIO
JASON BUTLER "THE COLLAGES"
Pop-Up Exhibition, Jersey

July 5th 2021

STILL BEHIND THE SCENES:
NINA NOWAK'S EXHIBITION
Galleri Susanne Ottesen, Copenhagen

June 28th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
PER KIRKEBY UNREALISED BRICK PROJECTS
Galleri Susanne Ottesen, Copenhagen

June 21st 2021

NEW ARRIVALS:
MISCHA KUBALL

June 18th 2021

A WALK IN MY LIBRARY:
HELMUT FEDERLE NIETZSCHE-HAUS SILS-MARIA
Schwabe AG Basel, 2004 Peter André Bloch & Jan Thorn-Prikker
on the occasion of Helmut Federle's "Edelweiss im Nietzsche-Haus, Sils-Maria" exhibition in Nietzsche's Haus, Sept 2004 to July 2005

June 14th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
L'INTERSTICE ARLES OPENING
JOSETTE SAYERS AND GUILLAUME ZUILI'S PHOTOGRAPHS
Brave and fearless

June 4th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
THE LAUNCH OF REAL TIME AND THE 3BS

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May 24th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
MATHILDE BRETILLOT DESIGNS NEW MUSEUM FOR LA MANUFACTURE DE GIEN

May 17th 2021

THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:
DRAW ART FAIR, LONDON, 2019, DESIGNER MATHILDE BRETILLOT AND ARCHITECT MISKA MILLER-LOVEGROVE

May 10th 2021

NEW ARRIVALS:
WETTERLING, STOCKHOLM

April 25th 2021

A WALK IN MY LIBRARY:
HELMUT FEDERLE
ABSTRACT PAINTING OF AMERICA AND EUROPE
Ritter Verlag, Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, 1988

April 11th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
LUKAS HOFFMANN, CNAP ACQUISITION AND TWO EXHIBITIONS

April 9th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
ESTHER SHALEV-GERZ, WEFRAC 2021

February 22nd 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
RICHARD MILAZZO OBSZINE #3
The Sadness of Bad Thinking

February 15th 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
RICHARD MILAZZO OBSZINE #3, ART, POETRY, AND THE PATHOS OF COMMUNICATION,
The Art of Impeachment

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February 1st 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES:
WITH POET/CURATOR RICHARD MILAZZO
REVISITING OBSZINE #3

January 12th 2021

A WALK IN MY LIBRARY:
POETRY IN SEDITIOUS TIMES

January 5th 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR AND SOUVENIRS FROM 2020!

December 31st 2020

A WALK IN MY LIBRARY:
DECEMBER 31, 2020. JASON BUTLER'S EXHIBITION
Meyer Schapiro, “Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist and Society

December 18th 2020

BEHIND THE SCENES:
LIOR GALL, BRUSSELS, 2020

December 11th 2020

HIGHLIGHT:
LOVE LETTERS
A new participative project by artist Koen Vanmechelen

December 4th 2020

BEHIND THE SCENES:
LINDA KARSHAN AND THE BROOKLYN RAIL

November 27th 2020

BEHIND THE SCENES:
NOVEMBER 2020, LINDA KARSHAN
The Covid Conversation, A New Film

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November 6th 2020

A WALK IN MY LIBRARY:
PARIS, NOV. 6, 2020
ABËTËI by Ishmael Fiifi Annobil

October 20th 2020

BEHIND THE SCENES:
MATHILDE BRETILLOT
Designs new offices for Parfums de Marly, Paris

October 12th 2020

BEHIND THE SCENES:
BERLIN STUDIO VISIT - LUKAS HOFFMANN

all posts title image
Exhibition view at The Bonnier Gallery, Miami, with MINYADES I, 2021 (left) and BACCHANALE I, 2021 (right)

BEHIND THE SCENES:
MINYADES
An exhibition of paintings by Richard Höglund
The Bonnier Gallery, Miami
December 2021
A Catalogue Essay

December 13th 2021

“Looking for Order

Painting after Covid.”

Jill Silverman van Coenegrachts, Paris

August 2021

PART I

I began the day with grey dawn, nervous that the blue sky and sun I longed for might not appear, but then I realised it was not yet six in the morning. Another early start, in these months of awkward starting and stopping, convincing ourselves the world as we once lived in it was still there, waiting, throbbing. The conversations and days and nights of artists, conversations, studio visits and then relentless watching over exhibition making, candid reflections and cynical interlude, I imagined all of these would be as before. Our world would be as before.

In the reflection of this, there is a lot to tell you right now. Richard Höglund’s paintings have a lot to tell you right now. But for you to understand in what way, and how, and why you have to follow me through this digression that will whip a bit back and forth, I must take you back in his life and mine, to a different time completely. Do this and your patience will be rewarded. Afterall, we have learned in the last two years of Covid about the elasticity of time, its strengths or weaknesses. We the lucky, are still alive, and we have finite time. For the ones who are not here—they have endless time; the reflections of this we see in the night sky, in the darkness that every twenty-four hours overcomes the light. This shadow land is not fearful on its own accord it is here that we understand the light, not the other way around.

Exhibition view at The Bonnier Gallery, Miami, with BACCHANALE I, 2021 (left) and MINYADES III, 2021 (right)

PART II

Imagine a busy gallery with exhibitions going up and down monthly, dozens of people working in three floors, in this case in Paris. There are earnest young people in positions of importance, helping to make the machine or the beast run smoothly; there is a red headed man, tallish, curls, not French obviously, some kind of accent that is a mix of American and something else, but he is shy and doesn’t talk much, but he is very observant as we install one exhibition, then another, then another. He watches like a hawk. Has an easy laugh. Is prone to coffee with the youngest staff members, they cluster across the road in a makeshift lunch room/storage. There are a trio who work in this way as installers. I am told by my assistant that he is, like the others, an artist. I nod. Too busy to respond; a few months later I see an exhibition of his work at a small gallery off rue du Turenne. The surprise for me that day was just how coherent this installation appeared in the brief visit we made—wall drawings, wall writings, some kind of superimposition of text with drawing. His description of what the show was struck me as overly rhetorical, like many he had been reading all the critical literature popular a decade ago. “Useless” I think I may have muttered to him, but in spite of this need for literary justification there was something promising, as I referred to it at the time over a decade ago.

Since then, I have seen a smattering of exhibitions where the work depicted a kind of minimal painting that yearned to be something more expressive. Every time I stood in front of these light hued monochromatic canvases with colour appearing incidentally, I recalled how much critical reading he always wanted to discuss, how bound up he seemed to conditions of language and text. But, in fact his painting struck me as little connected to these ideas and more to something else, but he wasn’t seemingly aware of where they might be going, so my job was to wait.

BACCHANALE I, 2021, silver, lead, oil, on marble dust, bone pulver and acrylic emulsions on Belgian linen, 226 x 320 cm
BACCHANALE I, 2021, detail

PART III

This June, a short text message insisted I come to his studio, an hour from Paris. Impossible. I am still not doing studio visits, please send photos. In a shaky moment I agree. He is married now with two small children, his splendid wife a former archivist at the same gallery—so I feel connected to them through this lineage, like members of a tribe who have survived a war together.

He met me at the train, the sun glaring as it can in early summer, his red hair shorter, the beat-up Land Rover familiar, the small house on a large estate where his two children had been enrolled in local school was inviting. I held my breath because the life itself in this rose filled lane was intoxicating in its colour and vibrancy. He took me to a chapel that had been turned into his unlikely drawing studio, and it was here I caught a glimpse of a small dark painting above the wood burning stove. Then another. I relaxed because these were good works, and it meant there might be others in the tractor garage where he was working on large paintings.

He talked to me about pigment experimentation and discovering the invaluable Craftsman’s Handbook of Cennino Cennini published around 1400 that had recipes for pigments, going on from the Roman’s using Cinnabar to make vermillion, the Mercuric Sulphite of this mixing with Dragon’s Blood. He explained how long he had been working on these concoctions, trying to understand how colour was possible for his canvases; I let the words go, never wanting to hear too much because it was not always helpful in what actually the paintings embodied; he was giving me more classical back story that was leading up to more narrative behind the upcoming exhibition. 

The biggest problem visiting an artist in the studio working on a new oeuvre for an upcoming exhibition is figuring out what to say when the work isn’t doing what it could be doing. And they don’t know it. It is not fun at all. These moments can make you cry; the pressure being in front of work that has taken years to evolve and still isn’t there, isn’t singing because it is hanging there, limp and awkward, but not in a good way. How you address the good news and the bad news, is often one complex kettle of fish.

Exhibition view at The Bonnier Gallery, Miami, with MINYADES IV, 2021 (left) and Carl Andre, PYRAMUS AND THISBE, 1990 (right)

PART IV

Here, was one sumptuous dark triptych on the wall (Minyades III) with what looked like silver point drawing on the surface of the central panel. I am able to let you understand the complexity of the surface made up of silver, lead, Titanian on Indigo, marble dust, bone Pulver and acrylic emulsions on Belgian linen. What I didn’t know looking at this in the studio was that he mixed bone and marble which are crushed into powder and into this he adds dry pigments. Something in the surface is radiant and light hits every which way, the surface appears unstable, or rather you can’t rest your gaze upon it without it flinching back. There is a lot to see and a lot going on. Which is the attribute of these dark works, (there will be three in all) they are agitated as much as settled. I find myself thinking about Brice Marden’s early encaustic paintings, because for most of my life looking at work, I am always curious about materials, about how and why the work looks as it does. With Richard Höglund I am just looking to see what I don’t recognise, what is unfamiliar in the depth of this darkness. It has a liquidity that is hovering in some mid distance. The silverpoint is not for me as important as it is for him, but I just say briefly when he tells me it is unfinished and he shall add more silver point to the lower quadrant. “Why?” I ask him.

“Have you put a chair and sat in front of this work for a few hours to listen to it? You have to really understand what it is saying and how it is talking to you. There is something remarkable here, but I don’t think you sense it yet.”

Exhibition view at The Bonnier Gallery, Miami, with MINYADES III, 2021 (left) and MINYADES IV, 2021 (right)

I don’t want to look at the rest of the works just yet, but ask him if there isn’t another like this he has made for the project, and he takes me into the back room to see a smaller dark painting (Minyades IV—Silver, Lead, Titanium on Indigo, Dragon’s Blood, Marble Dust, bone Pulver and acrylic emulsion on Belgian linen) which he has explained in the narrative of the exhibition (which begins with the Carl Andre sculpture form 1990 Pyramus and Thisbe, Western Red Cedar that has unleashed his deep study of this story, and that led him to the story of three sisters weaving, alone in their room refusing to become worshipers of Dionysus and in their purity hope to escape the Bacchanal). This smaller work he suggests shows the three sisters who have been turned into bats shrieking into the night. Unconvinced by the story I ask him to hang this in the light next to the Minyades III; when they were both on the wall, I again asked him, “do you see what you have cooked here?”

At this point I wanted to just sit in silence. Which we did. The paintings are stronger than your story, I may have said. I wandered to see the preparatory sketches and research materials he had splayed across a studio work table, a book on Poussin open to the page on his Bacchanal, a book on Late Monet’s abstract Waterlilies from the period when he was almost blind. He had been struggling with the last painting, Bacchanal, now three panels on the wall, blank linen with layers and colours and curlicue gestures, conjuring up everything from Chagall to Poussin in the most untethered display of luxuriating layered decoration. Nothing to be said except to go back and sit in front of the dark works and let the velvet surfaces assuage our rustled spirits. Here was something long standing and true. Here was the radical zone of his midcareer finally appearing out from the collection of light works he had come to consider his primary subject. Here was painting you could sink your teeth into.

Exhibition view at The Bonnier Gallery, Miami, with MINYADES I, 2021

We spoke then about the tough aspects of understanding how and where light is created on the surface of paintings. The depth of field that arises even from a seemingly oily landscape of deep aubergine nearing black. There is no black you see, it is all tonalities of colour, and in these two works the sophistication and foreboding mingled with such ease that it almost escapes the viewer but then it pulls you back. “This is the sweet spot,” I say to him, before leaving for the train. “Understand what is happening here, in this darkness, it is not death, it is night. It is filled with the richness of your experience.” In my mind we are all of us sitting in these dark canvases trying to make sense again of a world we don’t recognise because it has changed, we have changed. It sounds like a cliché now to even imagine this as we try to ramp back up into the gear we were in before February of 2020.

PART V

In my thoughts that day were the grace of watching someone happy go lucky become a man, a father, a husband in the time of a pandemic; he had managed to get them out of harm’s way, deftly into the countryside, into a new school, into a new life, and having done that, what come through him was this darkness, these dark explorations of Indigo and Dragon’s Blood mixed with bone and marble. As if the antique world (marble) and our human/animal skeletons (bone) could provide a glistening molecular architecture for the most beloved shades of red and blue/violet. In this mix we have a glint of Abstract Expressionism of Rothko and Reinhardt, we have the early mottled surface of uneven wax encaustics in the minimalism of Marden, but his is another species now of painting. If it is fair to say the following day when he sent me a video of Bacchanal which he had worked on overnight, as a work that had “painted itself” I knew that he had indeed understood where he was at that moment, with the underpainting conjured from his mentors Poussin and Monet, but the surface was completely his condition here and now, in this maelstrom we will remember as being so turbulent and troublesome.

Detail of MINYADES I, 2021

Here small episodes of colour playfulness seem to rise from the surface like a carp in dark water. Are we seeing through a glass darkly or is this molten thickness just slipping in front of our eyes like dusk? There is something original here that also conjures the mysterious nature of Ross Bleckner’s night sky or chandelier paintings. Having not seen this in person I am aware that the light variations and textures caught on a phone in a light filled former tractor garage may have very different values to this work on the wall in a gallery setting with incandescent light. I expect the inner structure of its visual array will be no less than what I saw articulated from this distance. Geometry hidden just beneath the surface, order amidst the chaotic rivulets of colour and drawing that had been strewn across the raw canvas in all versions of violet, purple, pink, red, blue from left to right filling the entire lower half of the work in a noisy turbulent cacophony. This was certainly no Bacchanal I may have said archly. Refusing to be drawn into how he was going to finish the most important work in the exhibition.

Surfing through the requisite vibrations of Poussin’s figures cavorting from top to bottom, edge to edge, lying open on his work table, alas were not going to help him now. Though these struggles are not dissimilar. Which took me back to reread John Berger on Poussin from 1959 where he lays out the stones in a path from Poussin’s need for order while being revolutionary, being picked up by Cézanne who was looking at the small elements to make painting new.

“For Poussin there was chaos beyond the town walls, beyond the circle of learning—as there was bound to be until it was realised that human consciousness had as material a basis as nature itself.”

Exhibition view at The Bonnier Gallery, Miami, with Carl Andre, PYRAMUS AND THISBE, 1990 (left) and MINYADES II, 2021 (right)

The wild frenzy that was on the canvas in the studio unfinished, a rapture of uninhibited gestures redolent with appropriation from worthy helpmates, the lines or contours of Poussin, the colour and overlapping pools of late Monet, the rakish colours of late Chagall’s lovers flying in the air, what were these doing on a giant raw canvas was waiting to be clothed by night. The spell breaks, the sacrifice is made, the blood is spent and night comes back. Have we had to live through months of confinement where we could assiduously re-enact such things in mind, frozen and cut off in our own private worlds, far from each other, losing our minds? Then night. These flecks or episodes of narrative suggestion fill Bacchanal now with a reason to look, to be vigilant, to understand the texture and energy that can come only from painting. And maybe only now. Using a vintage piece of Carl Andre sculpture that presents a seemingly strong solid floor bound gravity about separation and weight, what enclosure actually signifies, as a pretext for an exhibition that goes from the floor to the wall, into the night sky reminds us that painting can still take us to uncharted, uncomfortable territories.

In this exhibition we see painting has still the capacity for dialectics. Just as Berger saw, his text concludes with a riff on Cézanne picking up the torch from Poussin—

“Cézanne’s incredible struggle was to find some system of order which could embrace the whole of nature and its constant changes. Against his wishes this struggle forced him to abandon the order of the static viewpoint, to admit that human consciousness was subject to the same dialectical laws as nature… Even today the process is incomplete, the solution only partial. Bur for those who will take the next step forward, Poussin, straddling the two periods in our culture when men sought order in life before they sought it in art, will remain an inspirer.”

MINYADES II, 2021, silver, lead, titanium, oil, on marble dust, bone pulver and acrylic emulsions on Belgian linen, 183 x 318 cm

In no way can we dismiss the ancient stories of the rites of Dionysus, the throngs dancing wildly under the influence of all the substances that were available, pulling apart of one human being as a sacrifice with the bare hands of the participants in this annual ritual these Bacchanalia were not unlike our own. We see aspects of these flagrant mind-numbing exercises playing out in real time with disturbing cult practices among our communities in many parts of the world; whether the cult figure is Dionysus or someone else, the sense of our possible immunity to these demigods and demagogues is a viscous fluid that covers everyone in the same way; thinking one can retain purity by sitting at home weaving as the story of this show suggests, is naïve. The purity we aspire to, the clarity, control and order we long for, this righteous moral certitude we insist upon, are in the end only simple illusions. Darkness absorbs us all. That is the fearsome aspect of life and art. In this exhibition of extraordinary paintings, we see something like a slice of this time through fine veined alabaster; opaque it draws us even closer.

Quotations from Selected Essays, John Berger, Bloomsbury, 2001, pages 48-51.

More info:

Richard Höglund

The Bonnier Gallery

Link to the exhibition catalogue