Innovating and expressive artist receives the Beckers Art Award 2023


Beckers Art Award 2023 has been given to Gothenburg-based artist Jonatan Pihlgren who explores intense emotions in paintings where everyday life meets dreams and fantasies. Sculpting and performance are also parts of his artistic practice. As part of the award, Jonatan Pihlgren holds two solo exhibitions and the second one opens at KKAM (former Höganäs Museum) on Saturday August 26 and stays open until September 24.

Jonatan Pihlgren is the 2023 recipient of the Beckers Art Award. Portrait of Jonatan in his studio 2022 (cropped image). Photo: Fredrik Åkum.

How would you describe your artistry in general and what you create?

My art is emotional, expressive and slightly dramatic. What I create often emanates from an inner journey where I explore my own experiences. I start with a motif that triggers a strong sensation in me and investigate it further. Then I let myself go and let the painting flow intuitively and freely from there. By doing so I am able to reach a state of freedom where I can receive impressions from many sources and where the borders in time and space are dissolved. I mainly paint scenes from my everyday life and portray my family, friends and pets. In that sense my art is storytelling and autobiographical. Some reviewers also find references from art history through the symbols and choice of compositions in my paintings. Even though painting is central in my practice, the medium itself is not the important thing. My aim is to make art that communicates directly with the viewer without limitations.

Jonatan Pihlgren, Wolf hour (vargtimme). Artwork from the studio 2022. Photo: Fredrik Åkum.

What has it meant for you and your career to receive the Beckers Art Award 2023?

It has given me a broader audience, which is new to me. Meeting their reactions has in turn given me a fresh perspective on my art. The award exhibition at Färgfabriken this spring also brought valuable experience of how to plan and produce for a larger exhibition.

The grant money gave me the opportunity to work over a longer period of time with full attention on my art. Essential to me, since painting as an artistic practice must be allowed to take time. It is usually a slow process to reach the state where you feel that a painting is finished.

In addition to this I have experienced an increasing interest for my work in the art community. I have been approached by several galleries looking for collaborations and today I have three upcoming exhibitions besides the one at KKAM.

What are you looking forward to next?

I look forward to create new art works and examine new materials. Right now I am assisting Olof Marsja in his studio, an artist who makes sculptures in bronze, glass and plastic. It is very inspiring. To develop my work further gives me a sense of excitement and new energy.