5 Minutes with Jeanette Gunnarsson

5 Minutes with
Jeanette Gunnarsson

This month, we spoke with guest curator Jeanette Gunnarsson about their nomadic upbringing, what advice to give to someone looking to buy their first work, and their latest sale with AucArt, Whispers.

Tell us about your upbringing. How has it impacted your work today?

I was born in Switzerland, my dad is Swedish, and my parents met in London. I. moved around a lot, South Africa, Austria, Slovakia, and Spain. My upbringing was nomadic. It made me very curious, always wanting to learn more and see more. I think that’s how I approach art, too; forever exploring and wanting to learn.

Where do you consider home?

I’d say London is home in many ways, as I have spent so much time there. But I moved to Stockholm a little over a year ago, and that’s beginning to feel like home too. And, wherever my three cats are, they will always be home to me.

‘On The Verge’, Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm, 2022. Curated with Lauren Johnson. Artists pictured: Linnéa Gad and Michael Fink. Image credit: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

Tell us one thing few people know about you.

My biggest dream as a kid was to be the world’s first female football coach on a champion’s league men’s team or an opera singer; I used to drive my mum crazy, practising my singing for hours when I was little. She was convinced I would be a performer; I still want to explore that one day, haha!

Most inspiring person you’ve ever met?

I met Tracey Emin a few months ago with my partner; she was kind enough to show us her home and studio in Margate. She’s an incredibly warm and generous person. I think that generosity comes through in her work, and it’s one of the things that makes it so powerful, the raw honesty and vulnerability. I think she’s one of the artists who will be remembered from our time because her work is universal and timeless. 

I want to shine a light on some of the fantastic artworks being made here. There is a unique sensibility and way of approaching art here; I think landscape, in a broad sense, is important, as well as myths, folklore and stories.

‘Peter Piper Pigged a Pickled Pepper’, Fitzrovia Gallery, London 2022. India Nielsen, Matti Sumari, Jaana Kristiina Alakoski, Tove Dreiman. Image: Corey Bartle Sanderson

One item you cannot work without?

My iPhone calendar- I have to check it constantly to know what I should be doing. Oh, and Instagram, I couldn’t live without it! 

What does art mean to you?

Art is a way for us to understand the world around us, ask questions, imagine our future, and understand our past. It’s something that carries us through good times and bad and connects us to our ancestors and history. 

Greatest highlight of your career?

I have a feeling that is yet to come, but one thing that comes to mind is the first exhibition after the lockdowns in 2021; it was titled ‘ONE’ at San Mei Gallery in London. I co-curated it with two of my best friends, artists Nina Silverberg and Natalia Gonzalez-Martin, who run Subsidiary Projects. After we had been through such isolation, it was extra special to be able to put on a physical exhibition again and bring artists and audiences together. And working with two best friends was a dream come true, both on a personal and professional level. 

Craziest/most impactful experience you’ve had in the art world?

A few years ago, I went on a solo art adventure to Museum Susch, which is located in a remote town on an ancient pilgrim route in the Engadin valley in the Swiss Alps. The Museum is a renovated 12th-century monastery and houses a permanent collection of underrepresented female artists, which the founder and collector Grażyna Kulczyk is very passionate about. The exhibition at the time was Emma Kunz, whose works are so spiritual in that setting, unforgettable. I can definitely recommend the trip; incredible!

‘Being Here’, Kupfer, London, 2021. Artists: Jack Jubb, Saelia Aparicio, Evangelia Dimitrakopoulou, Davinia-Ann Robinson, Roxman Gatt. Image credit: Damian Griffiths

What kind of art do you like to be surrounded by?

I’m lucky to live with some incredible art pieces by amazing artists like India Nielsen, Daisy Parris, Shailee Mehta, Alvaro Barrington, Jack Jubb, Thom Trojanowski, Stevie Dix, Mary Furniss, Ingrid Segring and many others. It mixes younger emerging artists and some who have become more established. 

It’s important to me that I support artists, so I try to collect when I can.  

If you could bring one artist back from the dead, who would it be?

Artemisia Gentileschi? Would love to have dinner with her- maybe I can time travel too?

What advice would you give to someone looking to buy their first work?

Just go for what you connect with, feel excited about, and don’t overthink! Living with art is such an enriching experience, and as you buy more, your ideas and tastes evolve too. It’s so much fun!

What was the first piece of artwork you purchased, and how did you feel?

One of my first artworks was by the artist Archie Franks; it’s called a Forest and is inspired by The Cure song ‘A Forest’. It’s a thick impasto painting in dark green, so dark you almost can’t see the trees. But when you shine a spotlight on it, the forest begins to appear. It’s very melancholy, and melancholia in art is something I am drawn to. I love this painting; it is one of my most prized possessions. 

What are you looking for in a piece of art at the moment?

Well, since moving to Sweden, I have been deep diving into the Swedish art scene and Swedish artists. There are so many incredibly talented people here, which was one of my main motivations for putting together the exhibition with AucArt. I want to shine a light on some of the fantastic artworks being made here. There is a unique sensibility and way of approaching art here; I think landscape, in a broad sense, is important, as well as myths, folklore and stories. 

Is there an alternative underlying narrative that has occurred in your selection of artists and works – if so, what is it?

When I first started thinking about ‘Whispers’, I was really drawn to the idea of bringing together a group of artists who have a strong sense of storytelling within their works. For me, what’s exciting about these works is that there is a sense of something magical and sometimes uncanny within them. It really awakens curiosity and imagination. I also think there is something whimsical about the works, which I really enjoy; while they are sophisticated in their ideas and execution, they are also really playful, and I believe that’s important to have in art. 

What future projects are you working on or hoping to explore?

I am really excited about a Duo show I am curating in January with artists Vika Prokopaviciute who is based in Vienna, and Lucas Dupuy from London, both artists whose work I have been a fan of for many years now. It will be exciting to introduce them to a Swedish Audience at Coulisse Gallery in Stockholm.  

‘ONE’, San Mei Gallery, London, 2021. Curated together with Subsidiary Projects. Artists: Johnny Izatt-Lowry, Robin Megannity, Jessica Wetherly, Ellie Pratt, Shinuk Suh. Image credit: Theo Christelis