(Swedish, b. 1946)
dolomite (granite), 14 1/2" x 48" x 9"
Alice Tweed Tuohy Foundation Purchase
In 1996, twenty artists from Duluth,
and an equal number from its sister city of Vaxjo, Sweden,
participated in an exchange exhibition facilitated by the Tweed
Museum of Art, the Vaxjo Konsthall, and their respective municipalities.
Along with representative works by several other Swedish artists,
Sled, by sculptor and painter Kenneth Johansson, was acquired
in conjunction with the exchange.
A hard and dense type of granite, dolomite (also known as diabase),
is mined in southern Sweden, near Johansson’s home of
Dio. Sculptors worldwide revere the stone for the variety of
surface qualities it yields. A sawed surface results in a gray
tone; a broken surface renders a deeper gray, and when polished,
diabase produces a rich black, reflective sheen. Originally
trained as a painter, Johansson delights in the way the stone
exhibits such shifts in value and color. In the words of Swedish
art critic Mailis Stensman, he “uses the drill and grinder
as if they were brushes.” Typically, Johansson’s
sculptures are inspired by everyday functional objects in which
he senses an inherent integrity of form. Although positioned
sideways on one runner and broken unevenly at the back, Sled
unmistakably reminds us of its namesake – both a recreational
toy and a practical tool constantly in use during long Scandinavian
winters. Johansson’s sculpture also cleverly refers back
to the material from which it was fashioned; newly quarried
blocks of stone were traditionally moved around on heavy-runnered
sleds or sledges.