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Retroactive glance at Rolf Hanson’s artistic work

In the summer and autumn of 2021, it is the Swedish painter Rolf Hanson (born 1953) and his painting that is the artistic focal point at Artipelag. The exhibition Rolf Hanson – Retroactive opens June 5th and will be the most comprehensive exhibition ever made with Rolf Hanson’s art including works from four decades. The exhibition has been called a retroactive, which gives a hint on how Rolf Hanson often revisits his own art in new constellations.

Rolf Hanson – Retroactive
Rolf Hanson – Retroactive

Rolf Hanson is one of the most significant artists in Swedish art scene of his generation. He is associated with a Nordic romantic tradition of painting with a starting point in a relationship to the landscape. However, over the years, Hanson’s painting has turned to more and more abstract expressions.

Rolf Hanson was born in 1953. He received his artistic education at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm from 1974–1979 and his debut took place in 1981 at Gallery Blanche in Stockholm. Over the years, Hanson has been an arduous exhibitor across the Nordic countries and in Europe, where he is also represented on the most significant museums, to mention KIASMA in Helsinki and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo. In Sweden, he is represented in the collections at Moderna Museet Stockholm, Gothenburg Art Museum, Norrköping Museum as well as numerous others.

During 1982–1983, Hanson spent time in New York as a scholar at PS1 (Public School 1) which today is a part of MoMa (Museum of Modern Art). His museum career started in the autumn of 1985 with an exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. A separate exhibition at the most prestigious art institution in Sweden and so close to the end of his education was provocative for the established art life, but it also says something about Hanson’s artistic talent and maturity.

In 1988, Hanson was chosen to represent Sweden at the Venice Biennale, then as now, one of the most important exhibitions in international art life. Same year Hanson participated in the big ROSC exhibition in Dublin, Ireland.

In 1985 it was time for the next museum exhibition, this time at Rooseum in Malmö, where Lars Nittve was head and curator. It was followed up by an exhibition at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, which at the time was one of the most vivacious institutions in the German art scene. Following year, Hanson was awarded first price at the Carnegie Art Award. In 2006, another museum exhibition, this time at Dunker’s Kulturhus in Helsingborg.

The exhibition Rolf Hanson – Retroactive at Artipelag, is the largest exhibition ever with works by Rolf Hanson. It comprises his entire career, currently ongoing for 40 years. Often exhibitions like these are called retrospective exhibitions and are usually dedicated to artists with a long and important career, which undoubtedly is the case with Hanson. However, we have  avoided the description retrospective and instead opted to call the exhibition a retroactive, and this to give a hint that Hanson most definitely is not at the endpoint – au contraire his artistry is still in a development phase that constantly result in new constellations and reinterpretations of earlier works.

The music to the exhibition is composed by the violinist and musician Jonas Lindgren, a former member of Fläskkvartetten. Lindgren has been inspired by Hanson’s paintings and created the soundtrack Music for a Painter I Know, which will be made available for purchase in Artipelag’s design shop.

Exhibition catalogue

Artipelag publishes a comprehensive catalogue with pictures of all works in the exhibition as well as exhibition essays by Artipelag’s head of museum, Bo Nilsson and Lars Nittve. The catalogue has been designed by Patrick Waters (Waters Löwenhielm)

Rolf Hanson – Retroactive is planned to open Saturday June 5th, provided corona restrictions at the time requires otherwise. The final day of the exhibition will be Sunday November 28.

Press viewing

A press viewing is planned for Thursday June 3rd. The exact form is yet to be set due to the pandemic and the restrictions it entails, but those who are interested to participate can submit a registration of interest to

Press contact

Gustav Idhammar,, tel +46 (0)70–710 53 55

Above: Rolf Hanson, Eadem Sed Aliter, 2006. Detail. © Rolf Hanson.

About Artipelag
Artipelag is a world-class meeting place where art shows, cultural activities, architecture, music, events, Swedish design, and good food are presented alongside the beautiful Stockholm Archipelago. Artipelag is located at Hålludden, on Värmdö – about 20 minutes by car from Stockholm city centre. The building is 10,220 m² and is carefully placed among pine trees and cliffs with magnificent views over Baggensfjärden. Artipelag was designed by the late architect Johan Nyrén.