The works of Christian Partos often permit a wide variety of interpretations without losing their integrity. The light sculpture El Niño was created for the exhibition Genius Loci (Spirit of the Place) which inaugurated the Artipelag art gallery in Stockholm, alluding to the “Babybjörn” business run by the gallery’s founders, Björn and Lillemor Jakobsson. Here in the Cathedral we read it differently. The work comprises thousands of small optical cables which trap light or greyness of varying strength, depending on how they are aimed at dark or bright points in the room. Bundled together, they create the image of a child made up of light. An image whose arrangement, the artist tells us, required endless patience.
Structure or the solution of a technical problem is an important part of Christian Parto’s art. He sees his works as small acts of resistance. He seeks to surprise us and often too to defy the laws of physics. The world of Christian symbolism recurs over and over again, not least in such titles as Lacrima Christi, Epiphany, Prayer Machine or Fall from Grace. In the project entitled Ordet (“The Word”, 1998) he depicts the Annunciation in Skeppsholmen Church as the wingbeat of a dove. In the exhibition Återkomster (“Second Comings”) a few years earlier, also commissioned for a church, he let a drop of water fall into a water tub to form circular waves which ripple to form a cross, thereby solving the problem of “squaring the circle”, as Ingela Lind puts it in a widely noted review, with reference to a classical problem of geometry.
His works often contain a dramatisation in which chronological aspects are important, as in the permanent installation in the entrance to the Borusan Music House in Istanbul, where simple filament bulbs, like dancers in an austerely choreographed ballet, give us the feeling of standing in front of a recurrent rain of stars or meteors, an empathic translation of the temporal conditions of music. Out of apparently “cold” technology, Partos creates a life, as a reminder of the moral responsibility which always accompanies great technological possibilities.
Christian Partos was born in 1958, studied sculpture at Konstfack (the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) and also read chemistry and history of art at Lund University. Since completing his studies in 1988, he has taken part in a large number of exhibitions the world over, and he is represented at Stockholm’s Modern Museum, among other places. He was awarded the 2010 Sergel Fellowship for his achievements as a sculptor, the Becker Art Fellowship and the City of Stockholm Fellowship of Honour, to mention but a few of the distinctions he has garnered, and he has completed a large number of public assignments, e.g. in the City Tunnel, Malmö, an addition to the House of Culture façade in Stockholm in 2010 and the ongoing project for a new local government building in Kristianstad, as well as international commissions, e.g. the Borusan House of Music in Istanbul, in 2009.
Variants of some of the works described are to be seen in an exhibition at Uppsala Art Museum, ending on 14th September.