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Miner Orfeus

Miner Orfeus (2012) by Fredrik Wretman

FREDRIK WRETMAN-HANDELS -PhotoMikaelOlsson.se-5372.jpg

Photo: Mikael Olsson

Miner Orfeus (2012) by Fredrik Wretman is part of the SSE permanent collection, and placed in the corridor outside the president´s office.

The story of Orpheus in the underworld is among the most frequently retold of all Greek myths, and it’s featured in numerous works of paintings, literature, operas, ballets, plays, films and video games. In the story Orpheus loses his wife Eurydice to death by snake bite, and his grief is enormous. He isn’t having it. He takes his lyre and goes to try to get her back from the dead. In the underworld he plays a song so heartbreaking that Hades himself is moved to compassion. The god tells Orpheus that he can take Eurydice back, but under one condition: she has to walk behind him while leaving he underworld, and he can’t turn to look at her before they reach the sunlight. He tries. He really does. On their way out, however, when the first beam of light touches Orpheus´s face, he turns around to see his beloved - who is still in the shadows! And back she goes into the underworld forever leaving Orpheus to mourn alone.

Fredrik Wretman´s version of Orpheus does not carry a lyre but a miner´s helmet with a lamp (does this tell us that he is coming back from the underworld?). He is standing - balancing - on a chair reaching up, up! The is no trace of Eurydice.

There are endless interpretations of this myth (one by Plato!). Is it a story about patience? Of trust? Or doubt? What is the psychology of looking back? What can we learn from the myth?

Fredrik Wretman is a Swedish artist, born 1958 in Bromma, Stockholm. He was educated at Gerlesborgs konstskola, at ABF:s konstskola and The Royal Academy of Art (1980-85).

Wretman has during his career wigwagged between monumental and small formats, between large-scale installations and intimate sculptures such as Miner Orfeus. Techniques and materials have shifted, while a poetic touch  always has been central to Wretman's work.

Wretman´s more monumental sculptures adorn many places around Sweden, such as Bodhi in the river Viskan in Borås, Body and Soul outside Södersjukhuset in Stockholm, Up, up and away in the entrance to Östermalms saluhall and the singing teak bench in Monica Zetterlund's park in Stockholm (close to the school).


The story of Orpheus in the underworld is among the most frequently retold of all Greek myths, and it’s featured in numerous works. Pics are: Attic red-figure bell-krater, c 440 BC, Orpheus, Gabriel Thomas, 1854, Vertigo (movie), 1958, Alfred HitchcockNick Cave album, 2004, Moulin Rouge (movie), 2001, Baz LuhrmannFoyer of Mosaics, 1870, Opera Garnier, ParisOrpheus leading Eurydice from the Underworld, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, 1861, Still with Jean Marais from Orpheus (movie), 1950, Jean Cocteau and Orpheus and Eurydice, Iren Horrors