Explore the Swedish art scene at Soho House Stockholm
Displaying local talent against a beautiful background, our Swedish collection pushes the boundaries of art beyond the white cube
Thursday 17 August 2023 By Anastasiia Fedorova
With 41 locations around the world, Soho House comprises plenty of unique historic sites: from the waterfront customs house in Copenhagen to a former factory that used to produce socks for astronauts in Nashville. At each House, our interiors and art collections work in harmony with the building’s original features – but Soho House Stockholm is a particularly special example of this synergy. Situated within an old Methodist church in Östermalm, the House features vaulted ceilings, a preserved wooden altar and stained-glass beechwood windows.
The interior design takes the strong visual character of the building as a departure point for reflecting Stockholm’s creative scene today, and the art collection is a crucial part. Spanning more than 1,430 sq m across different levels, the space is a curatorial challenge for the lack of plain white walls. Indeed, the House is a complete opposite of the white cube of an art gallery, yet Soho House’s Global Director of Art, Kate Bryan, admits that the unconventional character of the building has taken the display to a new level. While the collection is still evolving with new works added later this year, we sat down with Bryan to get an insight into the curation process and the vibrant Swedish art scene.
‘Stockholm was a really interesting collection to curate – we’d never worked with a historic building quite like this before. There’s absolutely no hiding the fact that it’s a former church, and it’s very exciting for curators to think about the kind of work to put in that space and what it says. Naturally, you disrupt a normal way of looking at an artwork by putting it in what appears to be a formal religious setting – and we did play a couple of games with that.
We were trying to push the boundaries of the preconceived notion of what art in a historic church setting might look like. For example, there were various stairwells that take you through the space and they’re wood panelled. I acquired a lot of small, object-based pieces to go in the stairwells, like Anna Choutova’s paintings of high-heeled boots. It was important for us to try and create a sense that the art didn’t just stop in certain places, which is why we went for some of these smaller, more sculptural pieces. If you’ve got a space that’s a bit unusual, I think it’s more rewarding to lean into it.
‘There is also a large, sculptural hanging piece by Bella Rune that’s three metres tall and entirely made of silk mohair strands, which have been dyed with Kool-Aid. I love the idea that it’s dyed with soda pop – a nice juxtaposition with the architectural setting.
The collection is comprised exclusively of artists born, based or trained in Stockholm. It’s important to note that the city has a really robust gallery scene. But I was really, really struck by how innovative the work was and the quality of it across the board. Stockholm has fantastic art schools and a really engaged audience.
‘And we got loads of established artists, such as Carsten Höller, Anna Bjerger, Annika Elisabeth von Hausswolff, Ragna Bley, Andreas Eriksson, Lotta Antonsson, Linda Hofvander, Charlotte Johannesson and Paul Fägerskiöld, Nathalie Djurberg, and Hans Berg. And then we also included emerging talent as well, such as Afrang Nordlöf Malekian, Anna Choutova, Elina Birkehag, Joséphine Kamoun Johansson, Judit Kristensen, and Julia de Ruvo.
‘One of the themes that dominated was a really free painting style. There was a lot of figurative paintings, but also conceptual ones, too; people thinking about the history and heritage of painting. If you take an artist like Anna Bjerger, her practice is fascinating, because the pieces are all quite different in subject matter. She is very emancipated with what she can create, which is a great example from the city’s sophisticated scene.’
Explore the art collection at Soho House Stockholm.