Marten Medbo, born in 1964 in Järfälla and educated at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, is one of Sweden's most interesting artists working with ceramics. After discovering ceramics early at the age of 10, Medbo has constantly experimented with, challenged and mastered his material for over four decades. His unique and highly recognizable sculptural objects have recently drawn international attention, as in the exhibition FIRE! at Venus Over Manhattan in New York in 2014, curated by Simone de Pury, and participating artists as Sterling Ruby and Ai Weiwei.
Medbo’s sculptures oscillate between being objects for practical use and purely artistic objects; between brutalistic, industrial elegance and expressive organic physicality. Many of his forms possess an eerie aura as they appear alive but somehow sick and unwell, and sometimes even repulsive. The stately vases in Medbo’s most known sculptural series Crowd fascinate and compel to touch, while also evoking associations to something nasty, like large abscesses, or hemorrhoids. Unidentifiable creatures, as in the series Lost, exude vulnerability and evoke sympathy, while at the same time arousing disgust because of their dreary appearance. Beauty and disgust, pleasure and pain, purity and dirt, attraction and aversion are Mårten Medbo’s artistic territory, where he dismisses dichotomies in order to grasp and communicate life’s limitless essence.
In 2012 Mårten Medbo conducted a mesmerizing performance at Gustavsberg exhibition venue. The artist was sitting in a glass cage making pottery and throwing vases on a conveyor belt. The vases fell off the conveyor belt and broke, creating an enormous pile of shards, which was all that was left of the performance at the end. The symbolism of the piece is simple but potent, and we are glad to give our audience a chance to experience it through the film documentation presented in the exhibition's smaller room. This artistic performance is not just a meditation on life and human endeavor at large, but also on the fate of an oldfashioned craft such as that of ceramics, which takes decades to master without any tangible need for it in the modern society.
Besides ceramics Mårten Medbo also works with glass and concrete, and has produced several public sculptures in very large scale. The artist's works are represented in the National Museum in Stockholm and Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg, as well as in private collections in Sweden, Europe and the United States.