MINNEAPOLIS — The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson, a new, upcoming exhibition at the American Swedish Institute, showcases sculptor Kim Simonsson of Fiskars, Finland, who crafts beguiling, evocative and otherworldly life-sized ceramics figures, including those he calls “Moss People.” A kneeling girl talking to a two-headed bunny, a sleeping woman surrounded by ghost children and a girl with golden birds flying out of her eyes are contemporary creations that invite viewers into a fairytale-like world inspired by Finland’s primeval forests. The exhibition, Simonsson’s Minnesota premiere, opens Friday, April 20 at 7 p.m. with the First Look preview party and runs through April 21 – July 15, 2018. Nearly 35 selections of Simonsson’s work will be on view in the American Swedish Institute’s (ASI) contemporary Osher Gallery, and throughout the historic Turnblad Mansion. ASI is located at 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis. For more details, visit ASImn.org or call 612-871-4907.
April 20, doors 6:30 p.m., event 7 – 10 p.m.
The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson continues the American Swedish Institute’s year of The Handmade. Simonsson combines a ceramic heritage with the contemporary influence of eastern Nordic pop culture. Instead of the usual casting of sculptures, he takes his work further by sculpting many of his pieces by hand using a unique technique that coats stoneware with a green nylon flock, which gives the figures their smooth and mossy surface. His “Moss People” figures were selected as one of Artnet’s “Nine Fascinating Objects” at 2016 Design Miami, and Finnish designer Kaj Kalin describes his creations as “spirits of dangerous toys.” The sculptures are created in the artist’s studio in Fiskars Village, an arts and design enclave west of Helsinki. Simonsson’s distinctive work has been exhibited globally and been collected by more than 20 museums and foundations around the world, in addition to being shown at galleries and art shows in New York, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Belgium and Korea.
Simonsson’s work grows from dark Nordic storytelling tradition stemming from H.C. Andersen’s fairytales and Edvard Munch’s paintings. Coating the sculptures reminds him of moss-covered flagstones in a park near his house in Fiskars village in Finland.
“My sculptures are usually very sleek and smooth. The Moss People pieces are rougher and more personal. You can see my handprint in them,” the artist states. “The nylon coating also works well when the surface of the sculpture is slightly coarser and you can see that it’s handmade.”
“Nothing that is alive stays static long enough to grow moss, but a ceramic figure is frozen in a situation,” he tells of the thoughts behind the works. In his book “Tales of the Moss People,” Simonsson explains, “the name refers to children’s innate, sensible camouflage. The moss green figures blend perfectly into their natural surroundings, just as a soft carpet of moss covers the ground, rocks and tree trunks and acts as a sort of protection.”
Simonsson implies that his forest children have experienced difficult rites of passage and he evokes a sense of a world that crosses Alice in Wonderland with Lord of the Flies. The characters he depicts are at once whimsical, yet lonely and, yes, slightly disturbing. They also exude a sense of determined strength. “As I carried on, I could be sure what mattered the most was with me,” a Moss Child says in his book.
Bruce Karstadt, ASI President/CEO, commented, “We are pleased to welcome Kim Simonsson for his Minnesota debut as we continue the year of The Handmade and open windows to Sweden’s intimate connection to the handmade form. Kim combines an artisan ceramic heritage with contemporary techniques and interpretations, and we’re honored to present this innovative and internationally acclaimed artist.”
Following Kim Simonsson at ASI in 2018 is Gudrun Sjödén – A Colourful Universe, an exhibition on view July 27 - October 28, 2018 (First Look opening July 26). Gudrun Sjödén, considered the godmother of Swedish fashion, is a renowned textile designer. This visually striking exhibition shares her original watercolors and archival constructed catalogs.
Simonsson is captivated by the three-dimensional possibilities of clay. He has a Master of Arts from the Department of Ceramic and Glass at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki and was awarded Finland’s 2004 Young Artist of the Year prize, the 2012 William Thuring Prize and the 2013 Svensk kulturfonden prize. He was invited to work as guest artist for the Art Department Society of Arabia, the famous Finnish ceramics maker. His work has been exhibited in private and group exhibitions and arts fairs in locations including Helskinki, the Jason Jacques and the Nancy Margolis Galleries in New York, the Finnish Embassy in Washington, D.C., Art Paris, the Finnish Cultural Institute in Stockholm and the Gothenburg Museum of Art in Sweden, the Museum of Ceramic Art in Japan, and galleries and organizations in Berlin, Belgium, Korea, and throughout the world.
Fiskars, where Simonsson has his studio, is a village of artists, artisans and designers where art, forestry and nature play important roles. It is a part of the international Fiskars Corporation whose core brands are the consumer-centered Fiskars, Iittala and Gerber specializing in products for the home, garden and outdoors that are renowned for their functionality and cutting-edge design. It is located situated in the city of Raseborg, in Pohja, nearly one hundred kilometres west of Helsinki, Finland.
PRESS ROOM: For media mages and additional information. http://www.asimn.org/about-us/press-room
Related activities will continue throughout the exhibition. For more information, visit ASImn.org or call 612-871-4907.
First Look — The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson
$15 ASI members / $20 non-members The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson
opening night preview party offers a “First Look” at this new exhibition and a chance to meet the visiting artist, Kim Simonsson! Crafted cocktails and curated appetizers are available for purchase from the award-winning FIKA Café.
- Join artist Kim Simonsson in the galleries to hear him talk about his work.
- Craft your own ceramic creature with Northern Clay Center.
- Understand the exhibition in new ways through improvised modern dance with Kelvin Wailey.
- Meet University of Minnesota plant scientists from the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory to learn about moss from around the world, in tribute to Simonsson’s “moss covered” sculptures.
- Sample beer from Indeed Brewing and coffee by Tiny Footprint Coffee. Partake of FIKA’s food, beer and wine, cocktails and assorted beverages.
The Exhibition - The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson
April 21– July 15, 2018
(First Look Opening: Friday, April 20)
Ceramic sculptor Kim Simonsson of Fiskars, Finland, crafts beguiling, life-sized ceramic figures of children, animals and mythical beings, some seemingly covered in moss and often communing in nature. This exhibition features nearly 35 selections of Simonsson’s work on display in ASI’s contemporary Osher Gallery and throughout the historic Turnblad Mansion.
Exhibition Tours with the Artist - The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson
Saturday, April 21, Two tours: 11 a.m. – noon, 2 – 3 p.m.
$15 ASI members / $20 non-members. 30 person capacity
Join Finnish artist/sculptor Kim Simonsson for a rare U.S. opportunity to see his work and hear him talk about his creative process.
Upcoming 2018 Exhibitions as Part of The Handmade
Gudrun Sjödén — A Colourful Universe
July 27 – October 28, 2018 (First Look Opening Thursday, July 26)
This American Swedish Institute collaboration with renowned Swedish textile designer and entrepreneur Gudrun Sjödén examines her career and her boldly feminine collections inspired by Swedish folk motifs. As part of Gudrun Sjödén Design, her colorful, eco-conscious design processes and philosophies have earned her a worldwide network of fans. She grew up on a farm where handcrafts, such as knitting or carving, were a part of life. This visually striking exhibition shares her original watercolors and archival constructed catalogs, inspiring a forum for inspiration, knowledge and positive thinking.
THE AMERICAN SWEDISH INSTITUTE is a museum and cultural center that is a gathering place for all people to share experiences around themes of culture, migration, the environment and the arts, informed by enduring ties to Sweden. The ASI is located at 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, 55418. The Wall Street Journal called ASI “[a] model of how a small institution can draw visitors through exciting programming.” For more information, visit www.ASImn.org or call 612-871-4907.
ASI MUSEUM HOURS: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, Noon–5 p.m.; closed Monday.
Museum Admission: $10 adults, $7 ages 62 +, $5 ages 6–18 and full-time students with ID. Free for ASI members and kids ages 5 and under.
FIKA, ASI’s award winning café, is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 8:30 a.m. –5 p.m. (full menu 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.); Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.–8 p.m. (full menu 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. ) Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (full menu 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
The ASI MUSEUM STORE is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m. –5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. –8 p.m. Sunday, Noon-5 p.m.
SUPPORTERS: The exhibition project is presented with support from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and Karin Larson. Special thanks to ASI contributing members and donors, whose contributions help make our programs, exhibitions and community work possible. Hospitality Sponsors include the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot.
Minnesota artist activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota.