Swedish seventies neoretrofuturism: the paintings of Simon Stålenhag - Coffee Table Books
Looks like the cover art from what would be a really great book that would later be turned into a terribly disappointing movie.
These are wonderful. The blend of ordinary and fantastic lends them a subtly eerie quality.
Gorgeous! I just bought a poster of “Fjärrhandske” for my son who turns four years old today. The blond kid on the left is a dead ringer for him, and there’s something about the way they’re sending their droid out to meet the POLIS van that tickles me mightily.
My brother used to have a print of Rowena Morrill’s Twilight Terrors hanging in his office.
The kid in the picture looks exactly as I did when I was around ten, so my brother gave the print to me and it hangs in my home now. I love to look at it. It reminds me so much of how my childhood felt.
Maybe my son will feel a similar connection to the Stålenhag print.
This is fantastic. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Cory! It’s as though Syd Mead grew up on the farm. Or if Andrew Wyeth grew up in one of the offworld colonies. I bought myself a poster!
Reminds me a lot of Chris Foss’s work - with more of a down to Earth utilitarian (I’m sure that’s not the word I’m looking for, but it seems to convey the idea in my head) feel.
I was lucky enough to win the hard back edition of Chris Foss’s Hardware at a charity raffle. Well, truthfully I was given the book as the real winner had no interest in what he’d won, as I was the only one in the room who audibly squee’d when I realised what the prize was… I’m not sure I’ve ever been so grateful to a complete stranger for being so generous.
The Scandinavianness of this art is… remarkable. Stålenhag took all the exciting elements associated with classic sci-fi themes and dropped them in typically-boring Nordic scenarios. The result is often just… boring, although the hint of a coherent narrative is interesting (there are recurrent symbols and buildings throughout).
I wouldn’t mind buying “Fjärrhandske” and “Bonareaktorns Kyltorn” though. Ah, payday, so close and yet so far…
Have you shared this fact with your therapist?
No, in a good way. I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the childhood fear of imagined monstrosities. At 21 I moved to a crappy apartment behind the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. I used to walk around at night looking for things to rekindle the spooky atmosphere my childhood imagination would readily manufacture for me at every sunset. I didn’t like the fact that the only things to be afraid of in modern life were just… other people. Muggers and rapists and serial killers are a drag in more ways than one. If they could be replaced by werewolves and vampires and shoggoths and psychotic clowns grinning from the sewer grates, I can’t help but feel the world would be a merrier place.
He’s captured the quality of the Scandinavian light perfectly, too.
blocked at work… god damn it all to absolute double hell. D:
These are beautiful. I love the way he uses bright saturated colours to indicate electric light within the paintings.
The photo prints are really a great deal! If only I didn’t already have way more art than I have wallspace.
that IS his therapist
Reminds me of my own happy childhood, in which I would constantly be projecting imagined futuristic artifacts and scenarios onto my low-key suburban surroundings.
Simon reminds me somewhat of “Lonely Astronaut” artist by Scott Listfield, whose work I also love (and probably discovered thanks to you, Cory, as well)
Ignoring everything else for a moment, I have seldom seen a Volvo 240 painted with this much care.
I love this series. There’s an incredible feeling that each photo is part of a much larger world, and the machines are just something people accept as part of their environment. Hovering vehicles might have been a big deal ten years ago, but nowadays they hardly warrant a second glance. The technology looks a bit shabby, but it’s neither utopian nor dystopian - it’s just part of the new reality. The first painting seems a bit out of place though - in most of the paintings you get the idea that the machines and built environment belong to the government or some company, whereas the first seems more like a child’s dream of having their own mech and challenging the police with it. Or are they the kids of some of the police officers in the van (or perhaps schoolchildren on a trip), and they get to play with the drug enforcer mech for five minutes?
It’s funny. I was introduced to Stalenhag’s work just last week and am waiting for my print of Bonareaktorns Kyltorn to arrive. There’s something about those kids playing in the snow that speaks to me; it might have something to do with growing up on the Canadian prairies. It looks like they have a NOMA GT Racer like I did too.
I interpreted it as them having “borrowed” a farm mech from dad, and then someone called the police (like you’d do if you saw a kid driving a car).