Jan Liljeqvist Retroperspective

10 June 2006 20 August 2006

Retrospective exhibition
Main hall, Färgfabriken

Curator Jan Håfström

A rich presentation of an unknown artistry is shown in a retrospective exhibition.

Jan Håfström has recently engaged himself in deep studies of the enormous amount of paintings and sketches left by the deceased artist Jan Liljeqvist. Jan Liljeqvist died in 2003 and in the exhibition in Färgfabriken Jan meets Jan in a rich presentation of an artist only a few knew under his lifetime. This is now presented by Jan Håfström and Färgfabriken in the exhibition and the catalogue.

“When I first saw pictures by Jan Liljeqvist, it was the light in them that made me stop. A blinding overexposed light that eroded things and faces. He exhibited drawings at a small gallery on Söder in Stockholm, it was in January 1997. An image at the exhibition depicted a phone booth. A lone person, faceless, engaged in a life-changing conversation. I saw the phone booth as a kind of confessional. A claustrophobic cell where someone sought refuge. It had the same alarming duality as the light in the images: enticing but life-threatening.A short report that I wrote in Dagens Nyheter was entitled ‘A black and white world’ (14/1).

Six years later, in 2003, I read the obituary of Jan Liljeqvist in the same newspaper. He had died of a heart attack after a hike in the mountains that summer, aged 70. I recognized his face. I had often seen him around town over the years but we had never exchanged a word. I guess we lived in different worlds. Nevertheless, I am not completely unprepared when a letter arrives from the dead painter’s brother. Hans Liljeqvist announces that he has collected Jan’s artistic legacy in a warehouse outside Stockholm and asks if I am interested. We meet and he drives me there. Stacks of paintings, from floor to ceiling, a lifetime. Hans Liljeqvist has spent many hours photographing and structuring the enormous material.

He has arranged the paintings in different motif circles. Houses, islands, cars, trees, islands, gas stations, etc. A kind of ‘score’ that gives me a first idea of Jan Liljeqvist’s way of working. My first visit to the warehouse must have been sometime in the spring and winter of 2004. It had already gotten dark by the time we were heading back into town. We sit in silence in the car and the suburbs slide by. What will happen now? The painting I looked into carries a dark experience, but the paint has an almost self-combusting luminous power. Who was he? What is a person?” / From Jan Håfström’s notes on Jan Liljeqvist, To see in darkness.