Press Release

A New Light. Stefan Johansson

23 March–1 September 2024

Stefan Johansson’s (1876–1955) practice is characterised by finely-tuned portraits, bold studies of light and intimate interiors. In 1910, he began using a special watercolour technique that involves priming linen canvases with layer upon layer of paint that he then gradually washed away. He explored techniques, light and colour in a way that has no precedent in Swedish art history.

Hailing from the County of Värmland, Stefan Johansson is most famous for the sensitive portraits of his mother, Maria. Some of these he donated to the Thiel Gallery. When his mother died, this opened a void that the artist filled with new light. He embarked on painting the circular beams of light, sweeping shadows and lanterns in the fog that he devoted himself to day and night for the rest of his life. Johansson studied how colour particles moved in light on site, and then returned to his studio to paint from memory.

In spring and summer 2024, the Thiel Gallery presents an exhibition that presents Stefan Johansson in a new light, focusing on the artist’s exploration of light and colour. This also marks that thirty years have passed since he was last featured in a major solo exhibition in Stockholm.

Stefan Johansson had close links to the defunct artists’ federation Konstnärsförbundet and is richly represented in the Thiel Gallery collection. He corresponded periodically with his patron, Ernest Thiel. Although Johansson won acclaim as an artist towards the end of his life, he operated on the margins of the Swedish art scene for much of his career, being born in the parish of Vist, Östergötland, and raised in smaller towns in Värmland.

Press Images

Stefan Johansson, <The bedside light</em>, 1940, Nationalmuseum. Photo: Hans Thorwid /Nationalmuseum
Stefan Johansson, <em>Portrait of a mother</em>, 1919, Norrköpings konstmuseum
Stefan Johansson, <em>In the glow of the evening lamp</em> Privat owner. Photo: Mikael Solebris
Stefan Johansson, <em>Summernight</em>, 1947. Private owner. Photo: Mikael Solebris
Stefan Johansson, <em>Lantern in haze</em>, 1953. Private owner. Photo: Mikael Solebris
Stefan Johansson, <em>Quay in the evening light</em>, 1927, akvarell på duk. Norrköping konstmuseum.
Stefan Johansson, <em>The lantern by the river, spring evening</em>, 1943, Åmells Konsthandel
Stefan Johansson, Elin Fredga, 1914, Thielska Galleriet. Foto: Per Myrehed
Stefan Johansson, <em>Nattsken</em>, 1934, private collection. Photo: Mikael Solebris
Stefan Johansson, <em>Bro i dimma</em>, 1942, private collection. Photo: Mikael Solebris