LOYAL – Stockholm, Sweden
A Gallery that Pushes the Dialogue Around Young and International Art in Sweden’s Capital
Ten years ago, Stockholm's general public was seemingly unaware of the burgeoning international art scene that was blossoming in plain view. Back when Amy Giunta and Martin Lilja first opened LOYAL, a project that was seen as very daring at the time as Giunta and Lilja were spending only 50% of their time in Stockholm, with the rest was spent in New York. Over the years young international art has developed a stronger sense of awareness and focus, with this year's Stockholm art fair seeing many engaged visitors, particularly from the Nordic countries.
LOYAL first began as a magazine (LOYAL Magazine) in 2000. The original idea was to publish Kristian Bengtsson's images, a photographer who usually shoots only a single photo of a subject. This sense of curation, of editing down until you're left with only the pure essence of a concept, is what would unite Kristian, Amy, and Martin.
All of LOYAL's artists explore the concept of fear and danger in their work, and yet most manage to have a line of beauty that cuts straight through the darkness, leaving their work feeling charged full of energy. Amy Giunta tries to refrain from using the word “magic”, instead she trusts that LOYAL's artists produce work with merit and at the same time, is “lighthearted but dead serious”. Each of their artists make a direct impact on the present and future development of the gallery.
On running a gallery, Amy says “It takes the right touch to make something out of an idea and still have it feel light and effortless”. Especially, when that idea is in the midst of being discouraged by its contemporaries. When LOYAL first opened its doors the gallery had its fair share of doubters who believed Stockholm to be an impossible city in which to show young, emerging and international art. A road that since then has been paved with many obstacles, but unwavering in their belief, LOYAL came out the other side.
As it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, LOYAL is entering a new phase. LOYALMagazine will be re-born; the first issue is set to be released in Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach at Bas Fisher Invitational. The release will coincide with an exhibition, curated by Berliners Anna Frost and Annika Kuhlmann. The next year will also see many solo shows, including Brian Kokoska, Zoe Barcza, and Jesse Stecklow amongst others.
Stockholm's inhabitants are also now more international, something that can be seen with the opening of numerous international restaurants and its switch to a more varied cultural lifestyle as a whole, with many new residents coming from New York and London. When artists come to visit, LOYAL tries its best to encourage a dialogue. They often bring artists together, taking visitors to studio visits to see Henry Gunderson or Jim Thorell. Amy Giunta remarks that it feels good to get back to Stockholm's roots – “it's an exciting, new time. Many artists (for example Jim Thorell, Alfred Boman, Zoe Barcza, and Max Rönnersjö) have been busy building something new and fresh – and that feels good”. Artists, no matter if local or just stopping by, make new connections in Stockholm, which result in a whole host of fresh things that are on the cusp of emerging. The LOYAL team plan to continue turning their gallery into a space where possibilities are endless.
by Liv Fleischhacker
Liv Fleischhacker is a freelance writer based in Berlin. Her favorite topics include art, design and food.
All images courtesy LOYAL, Stockholm
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