Dogs are an endless source of delight and amusement to their owners. For Swedish artist Frida Fjellman, however, they’re also the subjects for meticulously crafted (read painfully difficult) sculptures in mouth blown glass and hand sculpted ceramics. Fjellman is one of the most renowned members of an important new generation of artists in Sweden, which has revolutionized the country’s aesthetic identity. Her hyper realistic pieces blur the boundaries between art, decorative objects and handicraft, areas that traditionally are held strictly separate in Scandinavian design.
Initially, Fjellman’s work was a sort of rebellion. “I first started experimenting with animal motifs, because it was something you weren’t supposed to do,” she says. “Ten years ago, any kind of figurative ceramics or glass art was considered tacky and vulgar.” However, many art lovers welcomed her refreshing new attitude and colorful fauna of lemmings, rabbits and owls. Together with a group of likeminded colleagues, Fjellman ushered in a new, playful and innovative aesthetic to the Swedish art scene. Meanwhile, she discovered that she genuinely loved working with animal figures. “It evolved into something that was a lot of fun and also very challenging”, she says. “My work has to feel relevant to me. It has to be extremely difficult to make and I have to feel very curious about what the final result will be.”
Her current obsession is dogs (which may have something to do with the fact that she has a young Ridgeback at home). Each piece is based on a real dog whom it’s also named after. “I try to capture the particular expressions of each dog,” says Fjellman, “I want to express that over-eager, too-intense quality that make dogs so lovable and relatable.”
And it appears that she has succeeded. Fjellman’s dogs have been snapped up by prestigious collectors, and several of them grace important public institutions. For example, the perky Bichon Frise Alicia currently guards the entrance to the Supreme Administrative Court in Stockholm. But what makes Fjellman most happy is when a buyer completely surprises her. “Some of my smaller and fluffier dogs, such as Pekingese in pastel colored glass, have been purchased by corporate middle-aged men”, she says. “I don’t understand it, but I think it’s fantastic!”
from Stockholm, Sweden