photography Christopher Nying courtsy of the artist

Hank Grüner: Bridging Cultures and Transformative Mythology in Public Art

Written by Art Editor

We met up with the artist Hank Grüner (b.1991 Bogota, Colombia) who currently lives and works in Stockholm. Grüner approaches his artistic practice from a place of adoption, resulting in a personal history and deeply personal experiences, paired with an exploration of cultural heritage, belonging, and transformative mythology. He portrays these themes in his latest exhibition ’Signs from above’, which features six sculptural works displayed over 96 square meters on the facade of Sthlm02 Studion, a creative initiative by Skanska Fastigheter in Hammarby Sjöstad.
Grüner is represented by Coulisse Gallery in Stockholm. His previous exhibitions include solo shows at Bam Berlin, Galleri Thomassen, and the Swedish Embassy in Paris, among others. He has also gained attention for his collaboration with Our Legacy.

Why are you doing an exhibition in Hammarby Sjöstad?
I have dreamt about creating something this big for a long time, that dream also involved creating something public that would reach people on a bigger scale. This peace will be a part of peoples daily routine, their way to work and schools. My goal is always to reach people that normally don’t get in touch with art and that also makes the form of public art even more appealing to me. The opportunity to make this artwork came through the building company Skanska, which I am really grateful for.

Tell us more about your background.
I was born in Colombia and came to Sweden and my new family when I was three months. My whole life has been coloured by the fact that I was adopted. The question of What if? That sliding doors moment. When I create something, I always include those questions and sometimes I find answers in my creations. I find time after time that my heritage is set deep into my bones, how I paint flowers and patterns with colors that are so significant for my Colombian heritage and typical for where I came from.
I am not traditional in how I work, I never finished any art school and learned most of what I know through my mentor and former boss Christopher Nying, founder and CD of Our Legacy. My work includes paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and more.

Describe your creative process for this project.
My assignment was to fill 96 square meters divided into 6 different spaces along a house facade. The spacing made me think of a theatre scene and display windows and how they tell a story. I also took a lot of inspiration from the stage, and how a performance took place on the stage that I created through my artwork. The thought from the beginning was to make a huge painting but I wanted to take it one step further and create something more 3D. The result is cutouts of wood, creating layers of shapes that I painted in stain colours. This is by far the biggest project I made and I needed a big space to work in, Skanska provided me with a 1000 square meter temporary studio next to the house that I was supposed to decorate. The studio is on the ninth floor overlooking the city, and the name signs from above became pretty obvious. Since this period of creating this piece has taken place at the same time as I just became a parent, this time in my life truly special. I have worked through nights watching the sun both set and come up over the city, this process will be a memory that I will carry through my life.

Do you have any other exciting projects coming up? We heard something about Milan?
Yes, it’s true that I have a project coming up in Milan. For the first time, I will exhibit a series of photos which I think is super exiting. The photos are portraying boat engines and how people cover them in blankets to protect them from wind, sand, and salt. The exhibition is a collaboration with Our Legacy and will be shown at their showroom in Milan during fashion week.

Hank Grüner is currently featured in an exhibition in the new area Sthlm New in Hammarby Sjöstad, opening on June 12 from 5 to 7 PM.

photography Thomas Klementsson courtsy of the artist
photography Thomas Klementsson courtsy of the artist
photography Thomas Klementsson courtsy of the artist
photography Thomas Klementsson courtsy of the artist
photography Thomas Klementsson courtsy of the artist
photography Thomas Klementsson courtsy of the artist