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Bo Christian Larsson: Run To The Hills

The Swedish artist, who manages to reference Iron Maiden and Greek mythology in the same exhibition, talks about his new show 'Run To The Hills' taking place in Munich

Swedish artist, Bo Christian Larsson is known for his large-scale drawings, installations, performances and objects. He often combines several of these elements in one project with the intention that they all interrelate and build upon each other. Often in Larsson’s work he shows the stages in his creative practice, believing that there is little difference between the finished work and the process. In his new exhibition, ‘Run To The Hills’ opening to the public today (18 November) at the Steinle Contemporary, Munich, Larsson has moved away from large-scale pieces and concentrated on a series of small works, that feed into each other to make a chain of reactions. 

In this and many other works, Larsson employs a wide reference frame, ranging from pop culture references (his exhibition title is taken from an Iron Maiden song), folklore, Greek mythology and even the objects he uses are sourced from flea markets and used bookstores where their origins are untraceable. It’s this mysterious and esoteric amalgamation of artifacts and ideas from different time periods that make Larsson’s work a re-imagines history. Larsson speaks to us about where the pieces for his new exhibition derived from and why he enjoys collating different parts of the past to create his own narrative.

Dazed Digital: What was the inspiration for you new exhibition, ‘Run to the Hills’?
Bo Christian Larsson:
The title is borrowed from a song by Iron Maiden where the lyrics clearly discuss the white man's brutal extermination of the Native Americans. To me that seemed like a very unexpected issue for a heavy metal band to address, and therefore decided to use it for this show. I also found that the title shed light on a very real image of the world of today, where we might have to run to the hills for shelter from rising water levels or to hide from the chaos of a possible black out of the spoiled modern society.

Grim pictures much like the ones that Steve Harris of Iron Maiden only could imagine from the stories being told of this dark spot in the North American History when he wrote this song in 1982. And by the way I'm sure people are running to the hills for shelter everyday in different parts of the world.

DD: In this exhibition, and in others, you combine heavy subject matter like myth and deep-rooted history with more modern ideas such as references to pop culture. What do you enjoy about fusing these elements together?
Bo Christian Larsson:
I like when the borders between all kinds of elements in general blur. In that way it’s possible to question the origin of the subject matter. Art is still a practice where it is possible to express things beyond a clear explanation or rational reasoning. It is a lot of gut feelings in my case, however all the information that is being used in my work is somehow part of me since I must have picked it up along the way. I don't like to think things through too much before I lay my hands on it and take it into a physical state, it’s in the action it happens and develops.

DD: What’s been inspiring you and your work?
Bo Christian Larsson:
That list can be made very long, however I don't like lists so I guess a big source of inspiration is human behavior or the lack thereof.

DD: Was it a conscious decision to concentrate the work into smaller pieces this time, as opposed to a central piece like previous exhibitions?
Bo Christian Larsson:
It just happened that way, I work very intuitive and like to go with the flow in the creative process. It might have something to do with the jigsaw puzzle principle, many small pieces becomes one big one, however I hope that in this show there are still a few pieces missing.

DD: It’s said that the drawings within your exhibitions could be seen as blueprints for the installations/sculptures. What do you enjoy about revealing these parts of your process? Do you feel it’s important to show the development?
Bo Christian Larsson:
The drawings are the start for all other works. I like to work with everything from small drawings to insane social projects. Every idea has its own way of expressing itself and I think that it all should be revealed as a part of the work. If I only worked with one medium, lets say painting I don't think I would show my sketches but in my case there are no sketches, only different forms of expressions.

In the drawings I find the energy to catalyze works in 3D or performances with people. The further away I go from the intuitive drawing the more conceptual the work becomes.

DD: After the exhibition, what’s next for you?
Bo Christian Larsson:
Next up is a solo show in Kunstverein Braunschweig in Germany where I will show three new big works.

‘Run To The Hills’, 17 Nov-17 Dec, Steinle Contemporary, Kurfürstenstraße 29, 80801 München