A Stockholm native, Jim Thorell has been studying Art in different parts of Sweden, as well as internationally in Japan and Vietnam. Since graduating with an M.F.A from The Fine Arts Academy of Valand, part of the University of Gothenburg in 2010, he has had several group and solo exhibitions. Thorell’s paintings are like a fantasy stream of consciousness transferred onto canvasses, with fantastical creatures and flora and fauna with whimsical shapes and patterns and colours. Currently in New York on a solo exhibition with 7 of his works on display at Sotheby’s S2 Gallery, we get a little insight into this artist and what inspires him.
You have spent the years between 2002-2010 studying art. How have all those years shaped you as an artist?
The school years work as a period of incubation, the studying of art, however pretentious it may sound, never really ends so it’s hard to evaluate exactly what you get out or take with you from these different periods. I made a lot of friends that I still work with, among them Alfred Boman, Duda Bebek, Elin Elfström and Karl Norin.
What brought you to Japan and Vietnam?
I had a genuine interest in both Japanese woodcarvings and brush techniques, I had also read a lot of Japanese manga growing up so it was a goal of mine to study there. Vietnam was very happening at the time and it was only curiousity that brought me there, both of these countries gave me awesome experiences.
Your latest work currently on show in New York seems to be lighter than your earlier works, how has your painting style changed over the years?
It has become more decisive and direct, definitely lighter, a direction I’ve felt necessary and also attracted to.
How would you describe your paintings?
Jubilant, vibrant and comical.
How does an artwork come into being, where do you start and what inspires you?
I am inspired by anything really, mostly other paintings from very diverse periods. It could be anything from Cave Paintings to Monét. That type of inspiration leads me to paint. Other times I might cook a meal or pursue something else, but my paintings come from looking at great works of art.
I usually start with a pile of canvases and through using very liquid paint I dye the canvases to bring out basic forms and shapes, then I usually make basic structures and compose the image, this is often made through pressing multiple canvases together which duplicates the shapes. Then in the final stages I decide topics, details and balance the image until I decide if its done.
Are you represented by any galleries in Sweden?
Not at the moment, no.
It is not so common for Swedish artists to break into the international market, how did you get into the London and New York Art scene?
We are a group of Swedish artists (Emanuel Rhöss, Alfred Boman, Lisa Devgun, Albin Looström, Elin Elfström, Zoe Barcza, Duda Bebek) that have been in contact with an international scene via schools,other artists, galleries, networks of curators and also dealers that have given us the opportunity to show in London and other places. Perhaps today the location geographically is not as important as the context or the community you find yourself in, its a very global scene and this can be both good and bad. National diversity becomes something that could be hard to translate and interpret to an international audience, but at the same time its part of what defines us, so it’s a complicated matter.
Would this have any impact on your career back in Sweden?
I think it will have a positive impact on my career in Sweden, in what capacity, is hard to tell just yet.
What are your plans once the exhibition in New York ends?
I am working on a new series of paintings and that is my main focus right now, to just have focused time in the studio and make great work. I’ve done seven shows this year already of which three has been solo exhibitions so I think it is good to give the audience a bit of a break. Then come back with something really good when people coming to the shows have worked up a bit of hunger.