Malmö may be known as an industrial center, but that doesn't stop it from paying just as much attention to its creative side. Its distinct blend of redeveloped urban spaces and Renaissance architecture creates space for both contemporary and traditional art to thrive.
The Galleri GKM Siwert Bergström made its intentions clear from the very moment of its establishment in 1967: the central acronym stands for Galleri Kända Målare, or 'Gallery of Famous Artists'. However, this doesn't mean that only renowned artists can exhibit, as the gallery prides itself on championing new talent. It has featured French painter and sculptor Arman’s powerful explorations of the cycle of destruction and creation, turning unwanted everyday items into artworks, and Yrjö Edelman’s trompe l’oeil masterpieces, presenting crumpled waves of colorful paper leaping out of the canvas.
Castle of art
Malmö Slott, the huge red brick Renaissance castle that guards the city, has certainly had a dramatic past. Once a fully functioning fortress, in the 16th century it became the prison for Mary, Queen of Scots' third husband the Earl of Bothwell, who was strongly suspected of being involved in the murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley. Today, however, it serves a much happier function as the home of the Malmö Konstmuseum, the art gallery and exhibition space that was unveiled in 1937.
Located just under 20 minutes' walk from our Radisson Blu Hotel Malmö, it has one of the largest collections of 20th century Nordic art in the world. One highlight has to be an exceptional collection of work by Carl Frederick Hill; a 19th century Swedish artist whose surreal, evocative sketches and paintings earned him the title 'Prince of Whispers'. An exhibition running until spring 2015 will highlight Russian fin de siècle paintings, with 58 works in total. They include Alexander Golovin’s The Foreign Minister, in which a man in stark evening dress stares pensively over the viewer’s shoulder. It’s an interesting study in muted opulence, and the paintings are a fascinating reflection of the class tensions that erupted into revolution in 1917.
The new Nordic
One of Malmö’s oldest galleries, Galerie Leger’s main focus is contemporary Nordic art. It holds about ten exhibitions a year, with past exhibitions including photographer Lennart Alves' enchanting sunset seascapes and John Stockwell's dreamy landscape paintings. While many artists restrict themselves solely to the walls of the gallery, some have chosen to transform the entire space: in 2010, Peter Johansson and Barbro Westling‘s Wasted Irony and Other Sculptures placed banks of colorful live flowers in stark white pots all around the gallery, with a full golden wheelbarrow in the center.
The final stop on your tour should be Galleri 21 on Rådmansgatan, so named because it was founded by 21 artists. The venue is a few steps down from street level, but its seven huge windows allow natural light to stream into the space. A cultural center as well as an art gallery, it hosts lectures and music recitals as well as notable exhibitions, with past installations by Jes Brinch and Etta Säfve.