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Roger Risberg

Svart häst (1988, Acrylic on canvas)


1988, Svart häst, Acrylic on canvas 135 x 190 cm

Interview

(WRITTEN BY THOMAS MILLROTH)

I'm going to try to answer in Roger Risberg's place because I knew him and have followed him through the years, he was a great artist and friend, who passed away far too soon. I will do my very best to respond and sincerely recall all the calls we had. In some cases have we talked about exactly what I answered, for example about Lars Hillersberg or Petter Zennström, and from the well of memory I have own book Vällingeblues and all the reggae music we listened to.

How would you describe what you were working on when you were awarded the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Scholarship, and what did the scholarship mean to you?

Then Roger made animals and people, animals that were a kind of protection, vulnerable people; the various animals were his totem. He had found simple emblematic colors, which pulsed off contrasts, as warm as the love he boiled with, and black as the darkness he
feared.

What discussions characterized the art scene at this time, and what was particularly important you?

For Roger's part, he was not so interested in such discussions, none of postmodernism's considerations or reasoning could grab him. In his art, the images were always genuine, always sprung from him himself. Call him naive, if you will, to me he was the only one that can really be compared to Die boy Wilde in Berlin. Roger played sincerity and
the desire to create images the biggest role, the desire for image overflowed with the desire for life. And on the contrary, if we talk about fear.

What exhibitions, films and books were important to you, and what did you listen to for music?

Roger listened to expressive live artists, preferably with great emotion. We used to listen to a lot of reggae together. Bob Marley, of course, but even more Burning Spear. African Postman was one favorite. He only read sometimes, a book I remember he read was my own Vällingbyblues, which he read from cover to cover.

If you would point out any person that you perceive as particularly influential in Swedish art at this time, who would it be and why?

Roger would have said Petter Zennström, and his teacher Lars Hillersberg. The former for the total the experience and strength he himself wanted to achieve, it was a matter of sincerity and honesty in everyone positions. The latter for all the encouragement he gave him, the support he received at Konstfack. Hillersberg made Roger feel comfortable with his role as an artist. Socially he had nothing
such in the luggage, which could make him embarrassed and insulted in the wrong company. Hillersberg got to dare him, Zennström's painting made him invest.

How would you describe the social and political climate that prevailed, and there were some questions or events that particularly affected your work?

The late eighties would probably describe Roger as a retreat from a strong permeation awareness, but at the same time, what happened when the Cold War ended was hopeful, everything which created euphoria and collective power affected the individualistic Roger - none at all collectivist but he was himself through strong external forces. Roger was a man full of people town gas.

When you look back and compare the art life then and now, which are the most eye-catching changes?

To no longer exist is a fate, today Roger would have shaken up a lot in society, but he would have solidified himself with refugees and Roma, he would have enjoyed a permitting world wide art scene; he could have entered a mature phase by virtue of age and experiences. The Elder Roger Risberg could have played a big role today.

What are you working on today?

(For my part, Roger lives and works on my walls and in my soul - he works mentally and spiritually, uninterrupted. Since 1983, his winning arrow has always been hanging over my hard times (1983), as a reminder of what art and life are all about.)


This is an excerpt from Samlade stipendiater!: 30 år med Maria Bonnier Dahlins stiftelse, by Niclas Östlind, (red.) (2016). Stockholm: Bonnier fakta.

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