Micke Lindebergh

Artist Profile is delighted to share Briony Downes's catalogue essay on Micke Lindebergh, celebrating his opening at Melbourne's MARS Gallery. Downes finds, in Lindebergh, an artist working in an illustrative vocabulary informed by both canonical figures of twentieth-century painting – Matisse, Miro, Kieth Haring – and the applied design traditions of this his native Sweden.

When looking at Swedish artist Micke Lindebergh’s recent paintings, it is difficult not to feel a sense of joy. Relying on a carefully chosen palette of his favourite acrylic paints, Lindebergh is heavily influenced by the block colours and floral motifs celebrated by Scandinavian design houses like Marimekko and 10-gruppen. Growing up in Stockholm in the 1980s these designs were deeply entrenched in Lindebergh’s daily life, covering everything from wallpaper and dinnerware to home furnishings and textiles. Now reinterpreting those retro designs through a contemporary lens, Lindebergh’s work is imbued with colours and shapes informed by a life full of artistic influences and creative experiences.

While Lindebergh works across printmaking, illustration and design, ‘Blommor’ features a series of paintings on canvas. In Lindebergh’s native Swedish, blommor translates to flower and the paintings here follow on from his early 2021 exhibition, ‘Mickebana’. Inspired by the Japanese art of Ikebana, a method of flower arranging more akin to fine sculpture than cottage style posies, paintings like Snö blommor (Snow flowers), 2021, focus on a clean and simple positioning of shape and colour similar in style to an Ikebana construction. Underpinning the practice of Ikebana is the idea of giving a flower new life through the act of physical arrangement, a key element closely linked to Lindebergh’s image making process.

For Lindebergh, image making is a way to daydream. When learning about Ikebana Lindebergh recalled memories of traveling to Japan, an experience that has flowed through to the paintings in ‘Blommor.’ Of particular influence during this trip were coloured versions of Japanese manga – multi-paneled illustrated stories that gained their widespread popularity in the late nineteenth century. Captivated by the detailed illustrations and wild surges of colour, Lindebergh found manga techniques to be the complete opposite of the minimalist designs he grew up with – intricate and complicated in the way images were arranged on the page. The experience led Lindebergh to experiment with more complex arrangements of shape and vibrant colour, and to eventually develop the trademark palette of primary colours he consistently returns to.

Arriving in Sydney via London and Europe five years ago, Lindebergh initially began his professional career as a musician. Following this path for several years, it wasn’t until his move to Australia that Lindebergh took the opportunity to focus on visual art full-time. It’s not surprising to learn music has been an important part of Lindebergh’s creative life. In ‘Blommor’ there is an effervescent lyricism that spills from each work, clearly evident in the balanced compositions of paintings like Stora djungel blommor (Big jungle flowers), 2021, where myriad colours work together in perfect symphony.

Studying Illustration at the Camberwell College of Art in London, Lindebergh’s early aesthetic was influenced by the work of Henri Matisse, Keith Haring and Joan Miró. Now living in Australia, he cites the work of Ken Done as a significant inspiration, particularly the artist’s depictions of Sydney in the summertime. In addition to retro Scandinavian design and Japanese manga, these artists and their considered use of colour, texture and pattern, have informed the foundation of Lindebergh’s distinctly recognisable visual language. Extending his image making to illustration and design, Lindebergh recently created a kid’s collection for the Sydney Opera House and has also produced designs for Los Angeles-based Slowdown Studio, traditional Japanese apron maker Maekake Anything and London’s Studio Moross. ‘Blommor’ is his first solo exhibition in Melbourne.

EXHIBITION
Blommor
10 – 28 August 2021
MARS Gallery, Melbourne

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