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Vila och Arbete by Hanna Tordai

23/02/24 – 05/03/24


Hanna Tordai (b.1999, Stockholm) is a painter from Helsingborg currently in her third year at The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Tordai’s work has evolved from comics to portraits and still life paintings, to more recently exploring the topology of memory. Tordai’s work has loosened its claim of representing the immediate world, interested instead of how the mind collapses perspectives and gravity to create abstract spaces.


In the 10 works titled Vila och Arbete painted between 2022-23, Tordai invites us to navigate such a space. While these paintings represent a continuous geography for us to wander through, the grid-like lines and geometry of “Arkiv” and “Törna” give a false sense of organisation. Without a beginning or end, scale or location, it’s a space that urges the viewer to experience what they’re seeing, rather than decoding it.


A recurring motif in Tordai’s work is the unstable relationship between symbols and meaning. In “Blixt” and “Platsen”, Tordai uses ornamental and cursive letters to probe this relationship. In these paintings, the letters are no longer a vessel for written communication but instead enigmatic symbols hovering in space. Just as lines and geometry can create the illusion of a physical space, these letters are legible, but their sequencing eludes meaning. The letters are however painted from real references of embroidered fabrics, suggesting that their sequence is not meaningless – just unknown to us.


The title of the collection invites interpretation. “Labour and rest” perhaps hints at a cosmic rhythm felt in the repetition of the lines and the stillness of the surfaces. Or maybe a Cartesian dualism between the physical hand trying to capture the abstraction of a memory. As you walk onto the grid of Cowgirl Gallery’s floor, Tordai’s imagery encourages us to consider how space, memory and symbols interact in an interconnected web of meaning. Welcome!

Artwork by Hanna Tordai
Text by Harry Thorfinn
Curator Selma Modéer Wiking

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