Stockholm-born, New York-based realist figurative painter Alexander Klingspor’s vision begins in the unforgiving darkness of the long Scandinavian winter, the landscape that gave rise to Edvard Munch’s muffled Scream and other heightened sensory environments.
Klingspor’s series of large-scale, multi-figurative oil paintings explores what happens when his cold-climate city dwellers come together for the twenty-first-century sexual theater of the dinner table. His canvases play with ideas of consumption and taste: the way we dress up for each other, follow unwritten codes of manners and hierarchy, and assume our parts in the modern mating ritual. Recurring props assume Freudian meaning in Klingspor’s schema: surrealist lobsters, pig’s-head-shaped carafes, spread lace fans, and fresh-caught fish straight out of centuries of still life. Shadowy architecture and lurid skies loom over isolated souls, among them a Klingspor stand-in, often depicted in the artist’s trademark fedora.
Working in a large-format, multi-figurative tradition caught between realism and surrealism, Klingspor has developed a deeply psychological visual grammar that goes against trends and noise in contemporary art. He paints from live models supplemented with the flexible tools of an artist at the top of his game: anatomical knowledge, compositional problem solving, and the rich aesthetic input of the dream world. (Highly influenced by Eastern philosophy, Klingspor cites Alan Watts’s dichotomy of the “spotlight attention,” the trained and cultured eye, and the “floodlight attention,” the omnipresent, nonlinear, fast-moving eye of the subconscious, as complementary sides of his process.) Pain, pleasure, sex, and death are never far below these smooth, still surfaces. From his lavish/trashy dinner series to his austere/foreboding nature and cityscapes, Klingspor is an artist with an unsettling and idiosyncratic point of view.\
Alexander Klingspor was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1977, and lives and works in New York and Stockholm. He is represented by Albemarle Gallery in London and A Gallery in Sweden. His work has been the subject of solo shows at Albemarle, the Arcadia Gallery (New York), and Christie’s Stockholm, among others, as well as group shows during the Miami Art Fair and the L.A. Art Show. Major solo exhibits include Transformations: Visual Slices of the Mind, Albemarle (2012), and Island Stories, A Gallery (2013). He has been featured in publications including ARTnews and American Art Collector, where his work appeared as a cover story under the headline “Painting Noir.” His paintings are in the collection of prominent individuals in the U.S., U.K., Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Mexico, among other countries. Influential American art philanthropist Iris Cantor was an early collector.
A throwback to a lost age of journeyman painters and illustrators, Klingspor left Sweden in his late teens and made his way to the U.S., where he apprenticed himself to renowned American illustrator and painter Mark English in Kansas City, Missouri. Upon returning to Stockholm, he joined the workshop of Magnus Bratt, a copyist for the Nationalmuseum of Sweden specializing in sixteenth-century oil painting. Klingspor maintains studios in New York and at the Royal Academy in Stockholm.