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Jacob Dahlgren 1970 Sweden

Being an artist isn’t only about having a creative streak – you have to be just a little bit crazy too! And Jacob Dahlgren has certainly earned his stripes in both regards. Literally. Keeping to his vow to wear nothing but striped T-shirts for the rest of his life, Dahlgren sets out into the world every day to create a realm of art and imagery that will not soon be forgotten.

During this year’s OpenART, Dahlgren is exhibiting this playful sculpture at Krämartorget. It has all the hallmarks of his art, including a colourful shape featuring stripes (of course) and the pre-fabricated building material he often uses to create his works. This particular work could have been inspired by one of Marcel Duchamp’s ‘ready-mades’. It features ventilation ducts that are joined together to form a wavy line with the same structure repeated. It is made of finished steel sheets and pipes which form a figure that weaves its way through the square.

Throughout his artistic career, Dahlgren has turned his ideas into reality by choosing building blocks from a plethora of everyday material and objects. This says something about his approach to art. He does not want to create a distance between the audience and his art. For him, art does not need to be ‘artsy’ and you do not need to have studied art history to understand it. The art world is filled with works made from high-quality materials that are exhibited in the ‘right’ places. This sculpture forms a digression from the classic choice of marble, bronze and granite as the material. It has been built with mundane pieces of metal that were already formed into certain shapes. And it hasn’t been put on a pedestal to be admired from a distance, either. This work is highly visible and tangible in a public space.

You could say that Dahlgren has really taken to heart the basic idea behind OpenART, which is that people can see works of art in everyday places without any barriers in the way. To put it simply: art presented on the public’s own terms.

With this in mind, Jacob Dahlgren is presenting his work as something that should be used, not reserved for an elitist audience. And his colourful wavy shape spreads this gleeful message across the square.