Sture Johannesson

Data i lloc de naixement:
SKANöR, Suècia — 1935
Data i lloc de defunció:
SKANöR, Suècia — 2018


Sture Johannesson (1935–2018) was born and died in Skanör, Sweden. After studying graphic arts and photography, in the sixties began to produce posters and films that experimented with a psychedelic aesthetic. His defence of psychotropic substances, used as a critique of the State’s social control, scandalised Nordic society: many of his posters were censored and a number of his exhibitions were cancelled. Experimenting with new media – from electronic and digital to narcotics – he showed that the modern State’s socialisation programmes are often more hallucinatory than any psychotropic substance. Johannesson saw his work as a radical exploration of the relationships between art, politics, technology and human consciousness.

He and his wife Anne-Charlotte opened the Cannabis Gallery, Malmö, in 1966. Located in an old dairy, it soon became a meeting place for artists, where publications produced by the radical European left were introduced. In 1970, they were the first in Sweden to experiment with the graphic and artistic possibilities of the computer, working together with Sten Kallin, a senior technician at IBM. They opened the first Apple graphic studio in Scandinavia. Between 1971 and 1984, they founded some twenty graphic magazines, with a circulation of between 50 and 250 copies, which played with fractured patterns and symmetries to create optical effects. In 1978, they started the Digital Theatre, a collective project of digital actors and computer-generated images. Between 1986 and 1998, Johannesson again collaborated with Sten Kallin on The EPICS Project: Exploring PICture Space.

Many of Johannesson’s exhibitions were censored or closed. These included one to be held in 1969 at the Lunds Konsthall, in the Swedish city of Lund, which led to the resignation of its director, and at the KulturHuset in Stockholm in 1976, involving an exhibition around Ulrike Meinhof, founder of the eponymous far left German group. Three decades later in 2004, an attempt to recover the figure of Johannesson with an exhibition in the Lunds Konsthall was also closed when the police intervened on account of the installation of hemp plants on the roof of the building.

Johannesson’s work is currently included in the collections of MoMA, New York; Swedish National Museum, Stockholm; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Musée de l'Affiche et de la Publicité, Paris; and MACBA, Barcelona, among others.


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