Tomas Lundgren is a Swedish artist from Gothenborg, famous for his sensitively executed grisaille painting, which are often based on  photographic models from the interwar period.
Lundgren was educated at the Valand School of Art in Gothenburg, where he graduated in 2013. He has received several scholarships, including the Fredrik Roos scholarship in 2014, Becker's Artist Scholarship in 2016 and the Artists' Association. Lundgren has participated in several solo and group exhibitions, among others at Röda Sten Art Hall, Moderna Museet in Malmö and Dalslands Art Museum. He is represented in private and public collections, including the SEB collection, the Ståhl Collection, the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the Moderna Museet and the Statens Konstråd.


Lundgren finds his subjects in archives, literature and history books. He has a persistent curiosity about past moments and how they intrude into today's social climate. The girl, Fränzi Fehrmann, was a model for the German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose work was shown in the infamous exhibition Entartete Kunst, where the Nazi regime displayed art they considered "degenerate". The pilot Blacker was the first to fly over Mount Everest. Art forger Han Van Meegeren, whose hands mix paint on a palette, made his living as an art forger. He became famous for having sold a "Vermeer" to Hermann Göring. The female demon Ammit from Egyptian mythology was photographed by Harry Burton when Tutankhamun's tomb was opened in the 1920s.


The photographic prints show a colorful historical time full of contradictions, experimentation and voyages of discovery, a time when traditions were challenged and new ones formed, a time of brutality and unimaginable cruelty. The grid system that Lundgren uses divides the painting into several fields. He has painted one square at a time, with the other parts masked. There can be months between each box, hence the small shifts in each painting. The old photographs that have become paintings relate to the question of how we relate to the past. When we remember, something in the past is actualized. At the same time, there is always something incomplete in this recreation. In every memory there is a displacement, a certain type of distortion, which constitutes the uncertainty in the image. In the same way as Van Meegeren, Lundgren manipulates history in one way or another. What remains is the gap, a gap between us and history that can never be completely bridged.


The work Le Temps Retrouvé consists of hand-copied pages from the draft of Marcel Proust's In Search of the Time That Fled, written 1909-1922. As in Proust's novel suite, Lundgren's drawings include a search for understanding a historical time that no longer exists. The slow recreation of the historical images becomes an aspiration, an attempt or a gesture, which never quite arrives. What is revealed instead is a gap containing the part of the past (or the understanding of it) that can never be fully accessed. The part that forever remains in the past or in the hidden. Just as the novel suite begins with childhood memories being awakened by the taste of a madeleine cake, Lundgren's paintings point to a kind of search that comes from the corporeal. An exploration that is embodied in the hand, as an embodied gesture that forever searches and that partially - but never completely - finds.


A recurring theme in Tomas Lundgren's self-critical relationship with his artworks is that the gaze is drawn to the execution itself and how it is always bordering on something else, shaped and reshaped in relation to other media and techniques. A meta-reflection on the potential of the painterly image and its history emerges, a kind of media archeology with a strong melancholic touch, in which the image presented is a kind of phantasm. But here is also the doubter's belief, a search for the image's ability to convey memories and moods. It can be a phantasm, but beyond the structure and repetition, there is a sense of conviction in Tomas Lundgren's art. A glimmer of hope.