Jan Håfström, “Den vita bussen / The White Bus”
Stockholm, 13.4–18.5 2019
Galleri Andersson/Sandström is proud to present its second solo exhibition with artist Jan Håfström; one of Sweden’s most significant artists.
The exhibition DEN VITA BUSSEN is an attempt to approach a childhood where both private and personal fragments mix with a dark political past. This complex material has always been an important part of Håfström’s work. And even more so with the permanent installation BARNET I TORNET which recently was installed in Örebro castle, through which this complex material has got an even bigger focus. The exhibition has its starting point in drawings that Jan Håfström drew in the 1940s in which one can notice the great influence from the ongoing war in Europe. DEN VITA BUSSEN can be seen as a work in process and an incantation of the experience that in many ways is the foundation of Håfström’s entire artistry.
A big part of Håfström’s work refers to literature that has been important to him through his life. By thoughts regarding time and death, a thematic that’s always been present in Håfström’s artistry, he has alternated between abstract and figurative painting, video and sculpture.
In parallel with DEN VITA BUSSEN at Galleri Andersson/Sandström, Håfström is also exhibiting new works at Liljevalchs between April 26 and May 12, with the exhibition HOTEL EDEN. Mårten Castenfors, Director at Liljevalchs, describes the installation as “a summary of Håfström’s more than 50-year-long career as a curious artist. In the installation, we find his special universe: the most personal, the playful, garnished with rich doses of art historical references.”
Jan Håfström has, since his debut in 1966, held numerous exhibitions both in Sweden and internationally. He has represented Sweden at the Venice Biennale four times: 1980 (together with Ola Billgren), 1990, 2003 and 2009. Håfström attended the start-up of PS1 in New York and has received a variety of prestigious prizes and awards including the Carnegie Art Award in 2001, the Swedish Visual Arts Fund in 2007 and City of Stockholm’s honorary award in 2009. He is widely represented in the North; at Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Gothenburg Art Museum, Astrup Fearnley Museum, Heine-Onstad Kunst Center in Oslo, Kiasma in Helsinki, and the Museum of Art in Kiel and Lübeck.
About the White Buses (from Swedish Red Cross):
At the end of the Second World War, when Germany was heading for military and political breakdown, the large Swedish lead rescue action known as ‘the White Buses was accomplished. It was initiated by the government and was carried out by the Swedish RedCross, lead by its vice president Folke Bernadotte. During some dramatic weeks, from the middle of March to the beginning of May 1945, more than 15000 prisoners were rescued from German concentration camps. Amongst them where nearly 8000 Norwegians and Danes. Apart from Scandinavians, citizens from 20 other countries, mostly France and Poland, were rescued. How many of them where Jewish was never accurately established. One reason for this was that Sweden did not register system of belief when the liberated prisoners arrived. Already before the war there was a distinct difference in the way the Germans treated civilian prisoners and military prisoners of war. The prisoners of war were protected by the third Geneva Convention, which the Germans respected. When it came to civilian, political prisoners no conventions existed to regulate their treatment. At the end of the Second World War this difference was more than obvious. Work to found a fourth Geneva Convention to protect civilians in a war was quickly initiated by Folke Bernadotte. At the XVII International Red Cross Conference, held in Stockholm 1948, the founding of a fourth convention and the modernisation of the existing conventions were negotiated successful and a year later the new conventions were ratified in Geneva. Folke Bernadotte never experience this moment though, as he was murdered during a UN-assignment in the newly founded state of Israel on September 17, 1948.