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Tora Vega Holmström, Gosse med snäcka, 1918, Moderna Museet. Photo: Tobias Fischer/Moderna Museet

“Reflection is the first step towards art” - Tora Vega Holmström

10 September 2022 - 29 January 2023

This autumn, the Thiel Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in Stockholm since 1945 of the ground-breaking modernist Tora Vega Holmström (1880-1967). Her practice is dominated by powerful portraits and expressionist experiments. On a trip to Finland in 1912, Holmström experienced a colouristic liberation. In her own words, “Reflection is the first step towards art.” From then on, paintings such as Strangers and Outside a Music Cafe in Biskra earned the artist national renown, and even a small international breakthrough after they were shown in London and Paris.

This exhibition began with Carl Wilhelmson’s painting Målarinnor (1902) in our collection, an allegory on the gravity, uncertainty and battle of being an artist, portraying Holmström together with her student friends Adelheid von Schmiterlöw and Hanna Borrie. The trio, who had Wilhelmson as their teacher at the Valand Academy in Gothenburg, called themselves “The Three Musketeers”. Holmström is the only one of the three who was to make a career as an artist. This exhibition seeks to highlight an exciting oeuvre, relating it to, and commenting on, the collection of the Thiel Gallery, where only seven out of a hundred artists represented are women.

In the Gallery, the first thirty years of Tora Vega Holmström’s practice are presented. Her style proceeds from pointillism and art nouveau, via modernist mosaics and billowing lines, towards a vibrant expressionism. The imagery in her works is often described as eternal and universal, but in this exhibition, the ground-breaking artist is positioned in her era, with paintings on the theme of women’s suffrage, working-class conditions and the post-traumatic stress of the surviving colonial soldiers from the First World War – Tora Vega Holmström blazed her own trail, in both life and art. 

The exhibition is curated by the art historian Adam Korpskog, MA.

Tora Vega Holmström, Figurkomposition, 1916, Stiftelsen Tomelilla Konstsamling. Foto: Per Myrehed
Tora Vega Holmström, Anna Paulina, 1909, privat ägo. Photo: Per Myrehed
Carl Wilhelmson, Målarinnor (Fr. v. Adelheid von Schmiterlöw, Hanna Borrie och Tora Vega Holmström), 1902, Thielska Galleriet
Tora Vega Holmström, Främlingar, 1913-14, Moderna museet. Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet
Tora Vega Holmström, Porträtt av Gerda Kjellberg-Romanus, 1916, privat ägo. Foto: Per Myrehed
Tora Vega Holmström. Självporträtt, 1904, Malmö konstmuseum. Photo: Malmö museer
Tora Vega Holmström, Porträtt av Gertrud Ingers, 1912, Helsingborgs museer. Photo: Anna Bank/©Helsingborgs museum.
Tora Vega Holmström, Porträtt av Gabrielle Josephson, 1934, Regionmuseet Skåne. Photo: Katarina Lundmark/©Regionmuseet Skåne
Tora Vega Holmström "Utanför ett musikkafé i Biskra" 1929, Malmö konstmuseum. Photo: Malmö Museer
Tora Vega Holmström, Ung man med fiskar, 1918, Göteborgs konstmuseum. Photo: Hossein Sehatlou/Göteborgs konstmuseum
Tora Vega Holmström, Tavastlänningar, 1912, Malmö Konstmuseum. Photo: Malmö Museer