Daddy cool: Matthias van Arkel

As Stockholm Fashion Week gets cracking this Sunday we ask Swedens most fashionable artist about his relation to the fashion industry and what he has been up to for the past year.

4 min read

Swedish artist Matthias van Arkel has been creating art and sculptures in the unwieldy material silicone for the past 10 years -  an industrial raw material that originally have been destined for artistic applications. He then went from oil paintings to play-doh like clay to colourful silicone rubber. His artworks carriers both colour and artistic expressions and shuttles thus the boundary between painting and sculpture. After two years in New York he is back in Stockholm.

You've kept busy, tell us what has happened since your last show in Sweden in April?

I came back from a 2 year stint in New York. It gave me a lot of good contacts and new spaces to exhibit my work. Except from my solo show at Cecilia Hillström Gallery I also did a large site specific artwork for the main entrance of the Stockholm Harbor. More recently, I've been fortune to do a lot of private commissions in addition to a collaboration and solo show with the New York architectural firm Morris Adjmi Architects. I ended the year going to Miami with one of my galleries, where we sold my 200 kilo sarcophagus!

Yes, we noticed on Facebook that you were in Miami and that you hung out at the Parneviks. Are they collecting your works?

No, they are friends of my client who bought my sarcophagus. He took me to their for dinner with the family. They had other guests over as they were filming an episode for their TV-show. It was very nice and  they are really wonderful people. 

Since last year, you now have two new international galleries representing you?

Yes, one of them is the Hungarian gallery Inda. It's an ambitious and well respected gallery with international success. They are showing me at an art fair in Dubai in March. They also exhibited some of my work at the Vienna Contemporary Art Fair last year. Then I also have a new gallery in New York, called Unix Gallery, the same gallery who brought my work to Miami and sold the large 200 kilo sarkofag.

Last year was amazing to me work related.  

What would make you go back to New York? 

If I go there again, I would need a 200 square meter studio, not a showroom like I had before. But right now Sweden is treating me well and I'm in a happy place. And it's not that I've let go of New York. I have my gallery, Unix in Chelsea, and I got to know a lot of Americans friends who is keeping me up to date. 

So what's up next?

As I mentioned, I have a lot of large private commissions here in Sweden. I will do group show at Unix Gallery in New York with Fabian Marcaccio and Lydia Dona in February. I'll do a show in Brussels and then I'm going to Dubai with my Hungarian gallery. And then I have an exciting installation for a bank coming up. And of course, more practical things like remaking my website. 

Fashion week is coming to Stockholm, what is your connection to the world of fashion? 

I have worked with brands such as Dagmar and Chanel before. Harpers Bazar did a photoshoot with Chanel in my studio. The models were standing on my cubes and the photos turned out amazingly well. They ended up doing an entire book out of it. 

The Swedish brand Dagmar, almost had their entire  2016 Spring/Summer collection inspired by my art. Otherwise it’s my wife who is a devoted fashionista. She has a master's degree in fashion and she is currently scouting for a job in the industry. 

Does she influence the way you dress? It's a nice leather coat that you are wearing.  

It’s not like I'm a total dumbo, or you tell me... I believe that I dress OK and have a natural interest in clothing. But as with most relationship, she sometimes encourages me to put on something special. Like that leather coat. But don’t you agree, it’s kind of cool…

Matthias is represented by Cecilia Hillström Gallery in Stockholm. Visiting address at Hälsingegatan 43.

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