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Malin Gabriella Nordin

Working across a variety of expressions and mediums, Malin Gabriella Nordin describes her creative process as a game of domino. With an upcoming solo show at Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm, we caught up with the young artist to talk about inspiration, dreams, and her time in Bergen.

It started out with some magazines and empty egg cartons. Today, Malin Gabriella Nordin is hailed as one of Sweden’s most interesting young artists, exhibiting her work in galleries and group shows all across the world.

– It’s never really been a choice for me, it’s just what I’ve always done, the artists says when we catch up with her a few days before the opening of her first solo show at Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm.

– What I’ve heard from my parents, my favourite hobby when I was a kid was to cut up all their magazines and tape them together again, but in a different way. I always collected “good garbage”, which was egg cartons, empty boxes, Styrofoam, etc., and when I had enough I used it to build different things. I guess I’ve just continued, but with new materials and ideas.

Working across a variety of expressions and mediums, from paintings to collages to sculptures, Malin describes her creative process as a game of Telephone or domino, where every step she takes influences the next.

– My process is my own game of Telephone, where I move between different mediums and techniques. Something that started flat on a paper turns into a three-dimensional sculpture that turns into a collage. The process continues infinitely, as leftover pieces from one project become a major part of the next project.

– During the process a conversation takes place between me and the work. I need to be observant, always ready to rethink and have the ability to see the deviations from the anticipated. Meanwhile I have to be quick as to not lose the thought or the intuitive. The next step always depends on the one before, like in a game of domino. The colour depends on the shape and the shape depends on the colour, and together they depend on the surroundings. Slowly, the shapes mould into characters of their own, all with unique qualities.

The next step always depends on the one before, like in a game of domino

The seamless transformation of motives and materials brings something organic to Malin’s works, where the shapes and structures take on a life of their own.

– It’s about keeping the gaze within the frame of the work. To get drawn in – to let the eyes wander around and then come back again. To constantly find new ways of looking at it, and see different structures emerge. So I guess you could say it’s a landscape within. I want to create a social interaction between the various forms, either within a specific work, or outside of it. Depending on how you place the work in a room, you can build up a tension. You can also invite the viewer to take part in this social interaction – like in a landscape.

Do you believe that you have a style?
– Of course I can see a common thread in my work, which is also a huge part of my process, the translation between different works and materials. But I think it’s very important not to get stuck in your own safety zone, doing things you know you’re good at. As soon as I feel I’m stuck in my safety zone I try to do stuff I haven’t done before, maybe trying out a new material or doing something completely different for a while. Usually, I come back to my old work, but with new thoughts.

Where do you find inspiration and influences?
– I like to think about things that are uncertain, because they leave more space for my own imagination. It could be everything from thinking of the universe to pass by a conversation you won’t hear the ending of. In my work I reconstruct fragments from my memories, dreams, and surroundings. It doesn’t have to be a specific dream or memory, but rather the feeling or the quality of it.

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Born and raised in Stockholm, Malin recently graduated with a BFA from Bergen National Academy of Arts in Norway.

– My three years in Bergen meant a lot for me, she says. To be in art school is a luxury – you can afford the time to experiment and evolve, to try out new things. For me, Bergen was perfect; it became my own little bubble where I could focus on my work. I had my own schedule, so I could choose to go to lectures, have tutorials or classes, or just work in my studio. It also rains 265 days per year, which allows you to stay in your studio all the time without missing out on the sun

Are there any artists that you look up to and take inspiration from?
– I love so many. When I was a kid my favourite artist was Henri Rousseau, I loved his Jungle Book (still do). I admire Louise Bourgeois and Cy Twombly… Miyoko Ito is one of my most recent discoveries, who I really love.

This week will see the opening of Malin’s first solo show at Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm. Entitled Don’t Leave Without Me, the exhibition will present a mix of paintings, collages and sculptures, mostly from 2013.

– The title is taken from a song, but I think it captures the feeling of my working process. I work in periods, it can be weeks when I don’t do anything, and then suddenly everything comes at once. Then I have to be ready, and try not to lose the thought or feeling. That’s why I like to paint with acrylic or ink, as it dries fast it means I can work fast, I don’t have the time to wait.

What’s next?
– I have two upcoming exhibitions in February, one solo show at Fullersta Gård in Huddinge and one group show at 3:e Våningen in Gothenburg. I also just recently got a studio, which feels really good. The last couple of months I’ve been working from home.

The exhibition Don’t Leave Without Me will be on display at Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm from December 6 until January next year. 

See more of Malin Gabriella Nordin’s work above.