press release

Karl Holmqvist is firmly established on the international art scene, and is undoubtedly one of Sweden's most prominent artists. Following exhibitions at MoMA and the Venice Biennale, Moderna Museet is presenting his extensive body of works in a condensed retrospective spanning from the early 1990s to today.

The main part of Holmqvist's oeuvre consists of text, published in various periodicals and then processed into posters, readings, videos, wall drawings and installations. Highbrow and lowbrow, popular music, poetry, politics, literary quotations, references to art history and letters of the alphabet all interbreed. Words and sentences are moved around and combined in new, ambiguous ways.

"The punk movement and the idea that everybody can do anything have been vital to me. That is also one of the reasons why I work with language, since it's something we all use and need to relate to and renew and invent all the time. Much of what I write is based on things I have misheard or 'mis-thought'," says Karl Holmqvist.

In this way, Karl Holmqvist manifests a faith in the power of art. Unexpected links, resonances and contextualisations create new relationships and produce a new reality. Although Holmqvist's practice can be related to the tradition of concrete poetry and cut-ups, as well as to text-based artists such as Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, he need not necessarily be interpreted within this context. When his texts are read aloud, sensual dimensions arise as rhythms and harmonies in pleasurable, sometimes humorous, soundgames. They are also memories, carefully observed and lived. Holmqvist mixes lines from Ezra Pound, the Bible, Patti Smith and Grace Jones, to name but a few, disregarding whether they "match" or not, revealing the contours of a life: of encounters, interests, observations, relationships and the Zeitgeist.

This exhibition is built around an acquisition of Holmqvist's works for the Moderna Museet collection, and features all his artist's books, a large installation and three video works. Karl Holmqvist (b. 1964) lives and works in Berlin.

Curator: Fredrik Liew

Karl Holmqvist - Moment
Kurator: Fredrik Liew