Ever since 1984, Anna-Kajsa Alaoui (born in Böda on Öland and raised in a suburb of Stockholm). After leaving school she began her odyssey of different studies with attending a college for P.E teachers. Art had been a big interest during her upbringing but never thought of as a profession. She continued studying film and drama at the university, attended an acting school and was part of a little theatre company. However her need for loneliness was not a good combination and she went to an art school to take up her interest for drawing and painting. For the first time she felt at home with what she was doing. She finally made it to be a student at Konstfack, one of the schools for higher education in art, but was by that time so tired of schools, adaptation, and living in the city, so she quit and moved to the countryside. Since she had a diploma, she could teach art at a high school and paint on her spare time. After some years she had begun to sell her art so she could quit the teaching. In 2004, a heritage made it possible to build a separate house on her estate on Öland. She called it Galleri Alaoui. In summertime, when there are a lot of people on this island, she opens up for visitors, and the rest of the year it is her studio. You can find three different kind of motives in Anna’s work: the nature, the human body and the non-figurative. At times, people/figures are installed in her art unintentionally, which are often showing movements like running, jumping, stretching etc.; for Anna it is expressions of different moods. The artwork of Anna’s caliber strikes a mixture of reactions and depending on the reactions, she feels a sense of confirmation that her work expresses the incomprehensible and inconceivable. Her awe-inspiring and thought-provoking work captures a sense of longing, melancholy, curiosity, rest, confidence, euphoria…. Anna’s brushstrokes are as smooth as calligraphy and she has an organic love for creating. I’ll admit that I expressed she has beautiful paintings. Her longevity in being artsy is 45 years strong. Swedish artist, Anna has exhibited her artwork in solo exhibitions and collective exhibitions. A solo exhibition is when there’s a single artist within a private or public space. A collective exhibition is when multiple artists share one theme, artistic movement, or belong to a historical-cultural cross section. Some of her solo exhibitions are the “Hantverkshuset” (1981-1984), “Galleri Småland” (1998, 2001), “Stenhallen” (2002), “Galleri Tersaeus” (1996, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2010), “Hedvig Eleonora Kyrka” (2007, 2008), and “Galleri Anigo” (2019), etc. Consistent with creating quality art, she participated in collective exhibitions like “Tones and Brushstrokes” (in the summertime of 1985-1989), “Hista Säteri, Mariefred (1988),” “Hanoi, Vietnam” (1999), “Staffanstorps Art Hall (2000), “Kulturbrottet, Löttorp (2004), “Greenwich Village Art Fair, Rockford, IL” (2006), “Virsbo Art Hall Surahammar” (2009), “Ward-Nasse Gallery, New York” (2011), “Nordic Art Köpenhamn (2013), “Marziart Hamburg” (2015), “Florence Bieannal” (2019), “Israeli Art Market” (2021), etc. When Anna attended art school in the late 1970s landscape painting was outdated and not encouraged. It was even seen as unprofessional, ”inferior” as a motive. The motives should have social importance. But during all those years Anna continued with her devotion to painting nature and today it is highly up-to-date, though from another angle than “only” depicting beauty and light. From her oil on canvas painting titled, “Winter Bathers,” Anna doesn’t need models for nature. I think she aimed for a playful, family-friendly approach in the piece. The location painted is Öland, the island in the Baltic (where hardly any ice, yet it’s still cold).
“Winter Bathers” 68 + 45 cm.’©. 2020. All Rights Reserved.
In the painting, “After the Rain,” my interpretation is that the opening of the blue sky surrounded by wispy clouds forms into a butterfly and the ground is multicolored. The ground has various hues of the rainbow. I think there’s a butterfly living on Earth and going to a better place after death. My interpretation is that this painting’s strong contrasts of light and shadow can make the viewers associate it with life and death.
“After the Rain” 120 + 120 cm.©. 2020. All Rights Reserved.
I asked Anna, “Are there ever times when creating your art feels like more of a job than passion?” “It’s a mixture,” she said.” Basically, when Anna creates art, she’s never bored and always loves working with colors and forms. Her passion is an adventure and motive. Much to my discovery, her piece titled “Guardian Angel” didn’t start off as an angel, but it gives a feeling of freedom, boldness, and expansion. Interestingly, she interprets the angel as being somewhat afraid. While she doesn’t know if angels exist, this difficult time during corona, she wishes that there should be “helpers” or angels. To her, angels can be seen as fantasy forms of salvation or comfort.
“Guardian Angel” 120 + 120 cm.’©. 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Her lively personality is highly noticeable, especially when she mentioned, “ My heart beats extra with an exuberant feeling!” That’s the same type of invigorating personality she puts into her enriched paintings. Her visually stimulating painting, “The Cliff” was painted on a black canvas. Black canvases are interesting because artists can use them to conveniently focus on bright vignettes and emotional pieces. From my interpretation, the painting looks like a cliff as well as sailboats.
“The Cliff” with the caption ‘120 + 120 cm.’ ©. 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Here are some answers to questions Anna-Kajsa answered in her own words:
During the Summers, you live North in the island Öland, in the Baltic Sea, which is south of Sweden. You have your own called Galleri Alaoui. Can you elaborate on how why your gallery stands out? My gallery stands out as a very special building with its 5 walls and irregular roof and no right angels. It also stands out in the neighborhood, in a little village at the countryside. How much would you say your school education benefited you in the art industry? I learned from drawing croquis and model painting. To study the human body contains all the challenges there are: proportions, perspectives, light, colors, interpretations, and expressions. Confronted with a living person, as with nature, you feel an obligation to find the truth, the core of what you see.
“I Walk” 65 + 160 cm.’©. 2020. All Rights Reserved.
When you focus on feelings, is there ever a moment where the art gets too emotional for you to look at, finish, or show? I am very disciplined. If I am carried away in feelings, I handle it in my art. You could say that painting is a way of dealing with feelings, so that you can cope with them. Sometimes I think that if I did not paint, I would be in mental hospital, for feelings come, overwhelms you all the time, from things happening in the world and around you. Your memories are also loaded with feelings, which can be a danger (stealing your calm) all the time. That is why you HAVE to be disciplined.
“Virgin Forest” ‘85 + 79 cm. ©. 2021. All Rights Reserved.
In 2004, you built “Galleri Alaoui in your garden, which has six irregular walls. “Galleri Alaoui” comes from your last name (Alaoui, which is a Moroccan family name). At your gallery, you only exhibit your own art because being an art gallery owner is a full-time job. Has there ever been an art project you’ve worked on that was a full-time job? In 1992, I got a very honorable task, to paint a big painting to be hung in the town hall of the city of Borgholm, the only town on Öland. It was a project I did myself, but with somewhat interaction with the municipal council. I did a project with a group during a Waterfestival in Stockholm called, “Borders,” 1998.
In your painting titled, “I sleep,” although the painting appears like space, which can be a relaxing feeling, it looks like an outlining of an octopus. Did you intentionally create the illusion of a creature in this painting or is there more that I’m not looking at? How interesting, you saw an octopus!! And really, the feeling of sleeping can be likened to the movements in water of the octopus! That is an example of what I tried to explain: When you paint something and don´t decide with your mind at the start what it should look like, YOU GET SUGGESTIONS FROM THE CANVAS. It "talks" to you—and probably it is your subconscious that talks to you, but it feels like it is coming from outside. You could put it this way: You get connected with the world and that is all that you have learned and experienced until now.
“I Sleep” 160 + 65 cm. ©. 2020. All Rights Reserved.
You’ve experimented with an unorthodox movement where a group of trees in the painting called “Pine Tree Dance” are caressed by the wind. The leaves are blowing in different directions and the sunlight exposed in the middle makes the piece more effective. What do you feel as an interpreter of this piece? I feel happiness. When I think of this place at "my island" I get tears in my eyes. You are at the vast sea (the Baltic) and you see it and feel the wind (that YOU can feel, how nice!) and the sun through the branches and trunks that really grow like that—because of the wind. It is like a dance, the trees, the wind, the light in the trees. And you hear the waves. So: these trees are unorthodox in reality! It is not a fantasy. What are your thoughts on artwork becoming much more valuable usually when an artist dies? As in all, commerce it is a question of supply and demand. When the artist is dead, you know there is a limited number of pieces on the market. Some art, and I guess most of it, is bought because the customer likes it. But some art become investment objects, such as shares. The prices lose contact with the quality of the object. Of course, you think it is worth its price, but when the demand vanish, the monetary value vanish as well. Of all the artists in the world, there are very few that grow in value after death, but those that do, are most of the time geniuses—sometimes they were discovered by the contemporary, sometimes not. Do you favor any of your works of art? They are all my children and I like them the same. If you want to contact Anna-Kajsa Alaoui or stay updated with her latest works, here’s her contact information: Website: http://galleri.annakajsa.se Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/gallerialaoui/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gallerialaoui/?hl=en