NORDIC SURREALISM: Inner Journey, Exterior Landscape
With the Wall Street stock market crash, 1929 stands out as one of the darkest years in economic history. The depression, however, had not yet affected life in Halland. An industrial, craft and art fair in Halmstad inspired several Halland artists to form the Halmstad Group. In addition to the Léger students Erik Olson and Waldemar Lorentzon, the group included Axel Olson, Sven Jonson, Esaias Thorén and Stellan Mörner. They introduced Surrealism to their hometown, albeit not the European Surrealism rooted in André Breton’s literary tradition.
The Halland version was more akin to CG Jung's theory of archetypes, in which the Halland countryside was a game plan for religious and metaphysical ideas. Interest in local phenomena was in line with the waves of nationalism that swept over Europe during the interwar years. The Nordic surrealists, however, continued to exhibit together with their European colleagues and the Halland Surrealism received attention at the major surrealist manifestations in Copenhagen in 1935, in Paris in 1936 and in London in 1937. It was in this collegial spirit that the international community of surrealists gained a foothold in Sweden. Swedish artist Greta Knutson-Tzara, however, was based in Paris where she had met and married the Dadaist poet Tristan Tzara. The couple were part of the international surrealist movement and Dalí and Miró often visited their home in Montmartre. After fleeing Europe, Hungarian-born artist Endre Nemes finally found a home in Sweden. The same fate was shared by Danish surrealists Wilhelm Freddie and the artist couple Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen and Elsa Thoresen, whose resistance to the German occupying forces forced them to flee Denmark for Sweden. Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen and Elsa Thoresen joined the artist’s colony established by the Halmstad Group in Söndrum, where they remained for the rest of their lives.