A few months ago, at stupid o’clock in the morning, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram (story of my life right there, folks) when a piece of dark landscape art popped up. In a mere moment I was transported from my bedroom in England, and dropped among vast, silent, snowy forests. The name attached to the painted landscape that had helped me momentarily escape to the cold far North, was Pär Strömberg, an artist from Sweden.
From Instagram, I swiftly swiped my way over to Pär’s website. When you’re delving, for the first time, into a newly discovered body of work, it’s one of the greatest feelings. I felt energized and deeply inspired. In my case, the darker the work, the stronger the positive impact it has on my spirit.
Pär’s art made me feel at home. The feeling I had was similar to how I felt when I first discovered the work of John Bauer and Theodore Kittelsen many moons ago. Pär’s wintry forested landscapes and vast mountain ranges greatly appealed, and warmed the northern blood in my veins. As when I discovered Bauer and Kittelsen, my life felt that little bit more complete.
Pär was born in the Swedish city of Örebro in 1972 and was brought up with traditional Swedish folkloric tales of ghosts and trolls. His upbringing, combined with a deep set passion for his Swedish heritage, human wonder and the wild terrain of his Nordic home land, provides the inspiration for his art.
He graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam in 1999 and from Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in 2013. Since 2010, Par has been lecturing at Örebro College of Art, and has had his work exhibited across the globe, including New York, Perth and Berlin.
Though the attention of Pär’s art has been predominately on the landscapes of Scandinavia, his focus has recently shifted, and he has created a new body of work which explores a culture close to his heart – black metal.
Those Of The Unlight (some of you might recognise the title from the second studio album of Swedish black metal pioneers Marduk) is a series made up of watercolour paintings, inspired by selfies that have been composed and posted on Instagram by female black metal followers.
Since its early days, black metal has been a predominantly male dominated genre, but behind the scenes there is a strong and dedicated female following. Many of these woman have been making themselves known to the world via social media, by hash-tagging their ‘selfies’ with the label #blackmetalgirls.
These young women, mainly girls from catholic backgrounds, use the machoistic iconography of Black Metal to make a statement, hashtagging themselves within social media as #blackmetalgirls and claiming the subculture as their own. – Pär Strömberg
Those of the Unlight was first exhibited in Stockholm in 2015, and now Pär’s art is making a journey across the cold North Sea, to England’s capital, and London Art Fair, where it will hang upon the wall in the shape of an inverted cross. (Sneak peak below).
Alongside a host of other internationally renowned artists, Pär will be showing new works from Those Of The Unlight as part of Semiotic Guerrilla Warfare Part II. This exhibition will be presented by PAPER, an artist-led, commercial gallery, that represents artists whose practise is based around the medium of paper.
The exhibition will run at London Art Fair from January 20th 2016 – January 24th 2016. If you are a black metal enthusiast, or simply have a passing interest in the genre and are based in the UK, this is an opportunity not to be missed.
If you can’t make it to London however, don’t fret just yet. Pär’s art will also be heading to the Link Gallery in Halifax, where it will be exhibited as part of Paper’s Semiotic Guerrilla Warfare Part III from the 30th January 2016 – 24th April 2016.