Kjell Engman, 3rd floor
Let yourself be seduced by the White Wife
The smithies in their black and white working clothes are drawn into a mocking, seductive dance by the smelting work’s white wife. Who is she, this legendary female figure who both attracts and scares in the gloom of the works? Is she always a harbinger of doom – or is she full of fun, just playing a practical joke on everyone? Maybe the smithies know…
Kjell Engman interprets the life in the smelting works – and its times – in a world of glass art. Gripped by the scene that this working cathedral forms, he portrays the dreams – or nightmares – of the people whose lives were once bound to the ironworks.
The White Wife is the main character. We don’t really know who she is – if she exists. The smithies symbolise the workers who keep the smelting works and the Martin hall in operation around the clock, throughout the year. The white-hot iron, which should be tapped from the bottom of the furnace, here runs out surprisingly in a golden stream. In a cavernously dark corner glitter ice crystals and the gentry can be seen gathering by the bar. With arrogant elegance the ironwork’s proprietor watches over it all – furtively. Is it all an optical illusion?
The feeling of the twenties is unmistakable – with what was then provocative fashion with daring dresses and high-heeled dancing shoes, and with the real blast furnace that is both the background and the centrepiece. The furnace was new in 1915. The spirit of the times, after the Great War, was also new. An undertone of doom creeps in – a premonition of the thirties’ crash in the world economy, the collapse of democracy and the destruction of the first creations of large-scale industrialism.
“Mankind is always wearing a mask. Which one we have on at any point in time depends on the context,” says Kjell Engman.
Kjell Engman was born in 1946. Contracted with Kosta Boda since 1978 with a studio at the Boda glassworks. A tirelessly productive artist with unbounded fantasy and zest for communicating that find their outlet in both glass for everyday use and works of art in glass. He finds inspiration in the most diverse places, not least from the animal kingdom and from the worlds of music and entertainment. As a glass artist, myths, legends, folk stories and dreams often figure in his works. “Glass is magic,” he himself says. Kjell often works with major installations where he also uses elements like sound and light. Frequently commissioned in Sweden and abroad to make works of art for public places.