In the extensive legacy of Scandinavian design, Kosta Boda rises to the fore as one of the most prominent and sophisticated artisans of glass. With a history extending back to 1742 and a reputation for employing legendary glass masters, Kosta Boda continues to wow in the present day through the thought-provoking works of three living artists: Bertil Vallien, Kjell Engman and Åsa Jungnelius.
Sand-casted marvels, Vallien’s venerated creations assume a familiar, lengthy shape—that of a simplistic sea vessel. While his famed figures take on a universal boat form, he traps something undeniably human, something visually poetic within his sculptures. Some saturated in deep blue, others in an orange or concrete hue, his arrangements maintain specific motifs. In several, viewers make out a red, hair-thin ladder structure. In many, a distinguishable face. Merging human anatomy with geometric figures, Vallien deconstructs and reformulates the viewer’s experience of personhood.
This glass master, born in Stockholm in the late 1930s, has used his career to constantly explore the possibilities of glass. After studying ceramics at the university level, he transitioned into a world of innovative sand casting, where he acquired an international audience for the creation of his powerful forms and frozen imagery. Now in public collections including the National Museum in Stockholm, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Vallien remains one of the most historically celebrated glass artists of all time.
Creative translations of everyday items, mythologized creatures and symbolic forms, Engman’s glass creations span the spectrum from sculpted plates of fried eggs to translucent red devils and fluid melted instruments. Waltzing the line between the ordinary and the unusual, Engman’s forms resist easy categorization and invite reflection. Curved into recognizable objects then distorted into dream-like figures, Engman’s work combines fragmented images from his imagination into startling sculptures.
Swedish designer Kjell Engman was born in the late 1940s in Sweden. Since immersing himself in the world of glassmaking he has built a name for himself, attracting attention with his delicate household objects and large-scale installations, such as Andarnas skepp, which takes the form of a small ship. In regard to his process, he states, “I want to shape glass that feels, that speaks to all our senses.” With his thoughtful color gradients, elusive meanings and seemingly liquid figures, he rethinks our sensible understanding of objects.
Stereotypical feminine objects – lipsticks, lips, high heels – transformed. Jungenelius reframes ordinary items, destroying their contextual meaning and reinterpreting them within her celebrated installations. In her staged worlds, the glass lip or shoe becomes the subject of a commentary that works to destroy its own mythology. In this, Jungenelius exposes the foundations of aesthetics itself, problematizing the viewer’s experience of art, of beauty and of the female in society.
Stockholm-born, Jungenelius has been working in glass for the last 18 years. With an MFA and an array of successful shows, competitive grants and coverage to her name, Jungenelius uses her glassworking abilities not only to explore contemporary values, but to educate, as she serves as a Lecturer at Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Playing with gender construction, decadence and social expectations, Jungenelius reimagines the woman in art.