22.12.22. Gallery Duerr – Anna Bergman Jurell

Gallery Duerr – Anna Bergman Jurell – How it used to be – September 29 to November 05, 2022 – Hudiksvallsgatan 6 – Open Tuesday to Friday: 11 to 6 pm, Saturday: 12 to 4 pm

ABOUT the artist

We are very excited to present our first solo show with ceramic artist Anna Bergman Jurell. 

Bergman Jurell’s first solo exhibition with the gallery is a collection of ceramic sculptures that raise several questions: What is feminine vs. masculine? Femininity yesterday and today? What accessories and attributes are used to define femininity and masculinity?

Anna’s work continues what she has long been doing as a costume designer for director Ingmar Berman and others. Her special interest in turn of the 19th Century culture spurred her exploration of status symbols in clothing and fashion. What is typically male? What is typically female? What is he, she, it and them?

Anna Bergman Jurell is a Swedish artist based in Stockholm.


ABOUT the exhibition

Interview by Mattias Timmander
As Ingmar Bergman’s costume designer, she developed a deep interest in historical authenticity in clothes and accessories.

At Galleri Duerr, a collection of ceramic sculptures signed by Anna Bergman Jurell is now on display. The artist has an impressive background of creation in many different formats, but the common denominator is a deep interest in historical authenticity. In the exhibition How it used to be, history is put in relation to society today

The largest part of the exhibition room is devoted to the fifteen expressive heads, all of which are provided with different attributes and decorations. The accessories are playfully chosen symbols that all mark some kind of identity. The overall theme of the exhibition is female and male, historically and today. Anna Bergman Jurell talks about the process of shaping the unique ceramic heads:

— I have reused old clay that has dried. If you soak it up and put it on plasterboard to dry a little, but not too much, you get a fairly loose clay to work with. The heads grew out of it, and you can’t work that fast. First make a shape, and then with some newspaper, then you go back the next day and then maybe it has shrunk a little so you have to press down, and so on with more clay, more newspaper, and oh there I see an ear! And on that road it is.

The attributes with which the heads are endowed vary widely. One has a substantial mouche from which a strand of hair sticks out, and another has a fancy moustache, which is actually made with esprits — that is, feathers from birds of paradise, which themselves historically have been status symbols in the form of adornment on women’s hats. One of the sculptures has been given a white collar, another has a cigarillo stump in the corner of its mouth.

— The collar says so much about the zeitgeist and status and class. It should be clean and dazzling white, and suggests that one has servants who can wash and strengthen them, as they quickly become dirty. This is what I learned from the old foxes at the theatre, not least as a dresser for Jarl Kulle. When he had to wear a tailcoat in a scene in Markurells in Wadköping, then I had to learn everything about collar buttons and cuffs, says the artist.

Anna Bergman Jurell has a background as a scenographer at Dramaten and has worked with, among others, Ingmar Bergman. She already knew at the age of 16 that she wanted to make theater costumes. But during her time at the theater she learned a lot and her own artistry began to take shape.

— I was an apprentice and assistant to Lennart Mörk, who was an artist from the beginning but got into scenography. Eventually I got to do my own assignments, but he kept a watchful eye on my work and constantly reminded me not to forget the big brushstrokes. On Dramaten’s big stage, there is no point fiddling with small details, but a theatrical increase is required. The expression must carry all the way up to the third line. That has impressed me a lot.

Anna describes Lennart’s sketches as “powerful and direct” and thanks to his painting, she sees scenography as a self-evident art form.

— He drew directly with marker on large watercolor paper from Lessebo, from the same paper mill that Strindberg got the paper he wrote the script on, it went quickly, and then gouache on it. When I started painting myself, it was those Lessebo papers that inspired me. It turned out to be more than just sketches, they were their own works of art.

In addition to gouache painting, she has later taken up screen printing, and thanks to neighbor and friend Annika Wallström, who is a ceramicist, clay sculpting also became part of Anna Bergman Jurell’s artistry.

— I got an idea that I wanted to do screen printing on ceramics, I don’t really know why… We tried together, she learned screen printing and I learned ceramics, and after that we have done several exhibitions together, says Anna.

Although Anna’s creativity has taken on widely different expressions and forms over the years, she sees it, when she looks in the rearview mirror, as the result of the same desire to create.

— It has always been the common denominator, namely my deep interest in costume history. People are drawn to the theater for various reasons. For some it is for the words and the text, some do it perhaps for political reasons, and today there are probably many who do it to become famous… But for me it has always been to achieve authenticity in the costume. That interest has since come to take other forms.

During the MeToo movement, Anna Bergman Jurell suddenly felt lost in devoting herself to “20th-century man pigs and giggling misses”. But later she understood that the knowledge of historical inequality and how we have viewed gender throughout the ages can also provide important insights into today’s society.

— I think a lot has changed, especially since MeToo. You see that when you look back historically as I am doing here. Here in the exhibition, I have played with hat pins, for example. They were worn by fine ladies to keep their hats in place — because of course you had a hat. During the suffragette movement, these hatpins could be used as weapons, so consequently there was legislation about a maximum permitted length for the hatpins, Anna Bergman Jurell says.

The exhibition revolves thematically around all this, with a large portion of playfulness and creative joy. By challenging norms and breaking down coquetry and gender and status markers into mere markers, Anna Bergman Jurell questions traditional gender roles. Why is facial hair reserved for men and what happens if you put a mustache on a woman’s face? When does the mouch transition from being a symbol of beauty to something repulsive?

— Already during my time at the theater I became interested in above all the turn of the century 1800-1900. When you stage, for example, Strindberg or Ibsen, there are lots of codes in the clothes. Strindberg was actually the first Swedish playwright to write costume instructions for his actors. He understood that what the actors wear on stage means a lot to the work. I learned many such codes from Ingmar. He was so thorough.

Thanks to the artist’s great knowledge of and feeling for historical style ideals, she has also been able to point out some symbols that mark gender in different ways depending on the time context. One such example is having one’s long hair gathered in a knot at the nape of the neck — the so-called chignon. In ancient times it was a hairstyle for both women and men, and in another only female coded. The same goes for the extravagant hat feathers, which on military hats were aptly called stanchions. Anna Bergman Jurell continues to tell us about the sculptures as we wander around.

— Here we have Manlig bust, that is, a play on words with the different meanings of the word bust. We have another such here: Hanging chest. Yes, it’s a chest that should hang on the wall. Given the great versatility in both format and expression, the viewer becomes curious about how the ideas arise. As an artist, how do you know what to do next?

— As an artist, of course, you do a lot that never comes to anything, but you have to see that as the way there, as part of the process. You may have to go the whole round and make ten pieces even though only one piece is needed. And suggestions and ideas come all the time, it all comes quite naturally.

ABOUT the gallery

Founded 2008 by designer Deborah Duerr, Galleri Duerr believes art exhibitions are great ways to tell important stories of our time. With a clear vision of making contemporary art more accessible, Galleri Duerr, a member of Svenska Galleriförbundet since March 2020, focuses on intercultural meetings between different art forms, artists and generations—national and international, new and established. Since the gallery’s start, it has had an exhibition program focusing on contemporary painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and design, and is today a living forum for exhibitions and performances in various formats.
We are excited to welcome you to our new location at Hudiksvallsgatan 6, second floor, in the Stockholm Galleri District.
We are also a partner gallery on Artsy online resource for art collecting and education. Our vision is to exhibit in a variety of public spaces with interesting collaborations, always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to reach out.
Galleri Duerr was founded by Deborah Duerr, who studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Before moving to Sweden in 1984, Deborah worked with design studios in San Francisco and New York. She is also a member of the board of Design Sweden and Svenska Galleriförbundet. With a passion for teaching, Deborah also started her own school offering art and design education for young people, and has taught at Forsbergs, Berghs School of Communication and Linnéuniversitet.

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