Augusta Strömberg (1866–1955) wanted to become a portrait painter and opened a photography studio in Uppsala, but wasn’t able to make a profitable from it. She felt persecuted and opposed, and along with religious visions, she was admitted to Ulleråkers Hospital where she was diagnosed with dementia praecox (schizophrenia) and came to spend her last 55 years in a mental hospital. During these years, Augusta Strömberg continued to paint, many self-portraits and portraits of staff and fellow patients.
Yemisi Wilson has carefully studied the idiom in Augusta Strömberg’s paintings and the only photograph of Augusta that the artist has come across. She lets her sculptures grow, from the inside out, as if she finds the motif in the inner volume rather than in layers and surfaces. The end result is a Janus face in marble that looks out over the park and into the building. The sculpture includes a portrait based on the photograph and an Augusta Strömberg made with an idiom taken from her painting. One side is easy-going and carefree, while the other is introverted and brooding, but straight-laced. Beyond the tactile, there is something intimate in Wilson’s Augusta sculpture, in the double nature, the calm, the overconfidence—the proximity to something bigger.
Text by Martina MacQueen, Art Consultant and Art Curator.