Jockum Nordström, ‘All I Have Learned And Forgotten Again’, Camden Art Centre

Jockum Nordström, Back in the Garage with My Bullshit Detector, 2000, (Copyright the artist)

‘All I Have Learned And Forgotten Again’ – a large survey of the work of Swedish artist Jockum Nordström is on show at the Camden Art Centre. Nordström works in a variety of materials, and the show comprises of his graphite drawings, collage work, and sculpture.

At first his work, with its strange characters and distorted history, has an apparent innocence. Their naive style suggests a less knowing hand with a distorted imagination. Time spent with these however reveal an obsession with the combination of history, adolescence and personal narrative. The images are expertly crafted scenes – full of motion and potential – juxtaposed against lost and circular dead ends. Nordström explores the inner workings of a mind, of memory and imagination – amongst the populated rooms and landscapes there is a sense of time spent alone. There is a strong Scandinavian aesthetic, muted browns and watery pinks. A haze of the past and an innocence that feels purposely built so Nordström can break it.

Everything that is processed by the artist is blurred, including the way you think you approach the work. Do we want to explore these as constructed and driven works, full of signposts pointed towards a more politically drawn motive or do we stay with the joy of trying to work out simply what is going on inside the artists head. Why is she on the table with her knickers round her ankles? Why are the clouds formed from lactating breasts? It’s these two ill-fitting parts that form the most interesting questions behind his work. Within this is a balance between detailed sections that slowly slip into looser more distorted faces and buildings. They hint to a slip of concentration – a wondering of the mind behind a clear vision. This is coupled with the repeated references to the unhinged but structured styling of jazz.

There is also the personal processing of the promises (and maybe failures) of modernism – a failed harmony stuck amongst fruitful if darkened 60’s & 70’s architecture. His modern world is haunted by the past with the presence of historical dandies and navy ships wondering through the scenes. Whoever isn’t wearing historical costume all seem to be engaging in a dark sexual subtext – drawing together this strange boom of a modern landscape with the dawning of adolescence and a loss of innocence. This is all posed within a personal landscape of thought, consumption and digestion. The artist’s belly is chewing though history and images; rearranging and reforming them to a much more disparate, if alluring environment.

 ‘All I Have Learned And Forgotten Again’ was recently on view at the Lille Métropole, musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France. The exhibition is on show at the Camden Arts Centre in London until the 29th September. Nordström was born in 1963 in Stockholm, where he continues to live and work.

COVER IMAGE – Jockum Nordström, Fuck the Big Revolution, and Where is the Holy Bible, 2005, (Copyright the artist)


Jockum Nordström, Barndomens Definitiva Slut/The Final End of Childhood, 2001, (Copyright the artist)

Jockum Nordström, ‘Every Cabin Needs A Fireplace’, 2001, (Copyright the artist)

Jockum Nordström, Loppspel/Tiddlywinks, 2004, (Copyright the artist)