I had an “oh shit” kind of moment when I walked into Hos Arne a few days ago.1 The tour of Billekvists exhibition started off as a whisper and ended not in a roar but in some kind of subtle comforting heartbeat. Like when laying your head to rest on some body part of another. You feel a pulse, something warm, even unexpected. I think it was the flower that set off the conversation as we strolled past the half installed, very exposed show.
“Well, it’s just a flower.” He said.

I knew that was bullshit, so I asked again and as I suspected, it wasn’t just a flower. It was a pattern he found in a binder full of embroidery that he had inherited from his grandmother’s syjunta.2 Junta is one of those funny Swedish words old enough for me to have to ask what it means.

Needlework is always judged from how it looks on the backside, every skilled embroiderer knows that. With painting it’s not really the same. We are trained to not see what’s behind and not want to either, as it might take the magic away from the mastery or reveal things we feel better off hiding. Here, Billekvist does the opposite. He exposes the backs giving away, most of the time, a bunch of first attempts gone wrong. He also doesn’t use canvas but a more transparent industrial like version of something natural. Polyester, the mimicry of silk yet more durable, just like the VHS versions of FF Föräldrefritt3 his grandma had waiting for him when he came around.

Billekvist is into systems, and therefore these sewing circles make sense amidst the very strict, very rough 48mm standard constructions that the frames are built from and placed within. These metal brackets fit perfectly because they are also part of this larger, constructed system. These materials are the groundwork, the basics, yet Billekvist reloads them, turning them into containers for viewing symbols with a hint of nostalgia.

I get the feeling that this has potential to grow, become larger and take on more weight. The paintings don’t stop at the end of the frame and the unfolded corners disclose a humble intention to keep on going. I appreciate this, along with the spatiality of the show. Billekvist isn’t shy but neither over obtuse in his use of space. He lets the frames and their construction do the work and draws as much attention to what he wasn’t pleased with, to with what he was, fiddling with tradition or should I rather say systems for exhibiting painting. He attempts to create an even playing field, or in this case hockey rink amidst these stories. Dirt bikes, numbers in their teens, grandmas lost patterns4, it’s all there.

B. 1992, Sweden


Joel Billekvist (b. 1992, Sweden) is based in Oslo and graduated 2022 from the Oslo Academy of Fine Arts. In 2021/ 2022, he has exhibited at Podium, Kösk, Hos Arne and Coulisse Gallery. In his current praxis, Billekvist is exploring how to define the front and back of a painting. Materials such as high-tech ripstop and transparent textiles are used as an unconventional

His interest in exploring the framing and textiles as part of the manifestation of a painting as a physical object has emerged through projects such as Soft on Soft, where Billekvist worked with soft oil chalk on transparent netting. The permeability of the material allows the viewer to see the contours of the stenter frame like a skeleton under thin skin.
The works thus challenge the boundary between front and back and transcend the twodimensionality
of painting as a medium.



Thanks for support our project! You can send an email to or complete the next contact form.

    Thank you for subscribing, we can’t wait to create this space with you!

    As soon as the Community goes online, we will get back to you 😉