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Meet SHIFT artist Svante Gullichsen

– Tell me about your background? How did you end up making art?

I started doing photography in my fourteens or fifteens. I used to carry a camera with me wherever I went, and slowly started to develop my own way of creating pictures. I wanted to do made-up situations, pictures with mysteries and stories within. Eventually, I started to create self-portraits. It surprised me how well it clicked, it felt so natural to use myself as the subject and the object of my works. 

– How do you describe the features of your artwork?

I usually describe the challenges of the human mind through nature. I take self portraits in desolate and natural state landscapes. The naked human body in a forest looks very natural and yet very strange: soft skin and warm colours against dark-toned tree branches and hard rock. I’m interested in the contradiction between man and the nature and try to find perfect harmony between myself and the raw forest environment. 

What did I miss, 2022

I want to use my art to convey my understanding of the human mind and its challenges. For me, making art is a venting system: a world where I can openly discuss my own issues and thoughts. I used my work to talk about difficult and even taboo subjects – now for a few years, I’ve been working with images that tell a story about living with severe OCD. My works are photographs, most of them self-portraits. I mostly use myself as a model for my own works: using my own body seems the most logical way to tell my own story.

– What or who your inspiration is?

I find a lot of inspiration from the Finnish golden age’s artists. Especially Hugo Simberg’s works are something that I can identify myself with. Strong symbolism, playing with mythology and dramatic settings. I also find different mythologies, especially Finnish, very inspiring – I’ve always loved good old-fashioned stories of paranormal, ghosts, forest entities and mysteries. The Finnish archipelago is also a never-ending source of inspiration for me, and most of my work is created in the Porvoo archipelago.

And I’ll go down, 2021.

– What are your new realizations since you’ve started the SHIFT program?

I’ve realized that if I want to be successful as an artist, I can’t just wait at home and hope someone comes to get me. I need to go out there myself and promote, network and put myself to the test. I’ve also learned that there are just as many ways of creating art as there are artists – there’s not a predetermined path of what to do to be a successful creator. I’ve understood that if I want to be bigger, I also need to do bigger. I’m currently working on a new project more ambitious than the ones I’ve previously worked with. Finally, now I have the guts and determination to do it.

– What positive effect has the SHIFT program given you?

I’ve found a lot of new confidence. It’s now a lot easier to approach curators and gallerists for promoting my own work. I also feel like I don’t question my identity as an artist anymore – I can proudly say that I’m an artist, there’s no reason to deny it. For most of my career, I’ve been working alone, secluded from other artists. I used to feel like I really don’t have too much in common with other artists, but to my positive surprise, I’ve got to know some amazing new colleagues!

-Which artist’s career stage can make the most from the SHIFT program?

I’m still quite new in the field and I’ve learned so much. Especially for a person that hasn’t studied art in any academies or different group settings, this has been very fruitful. 

– What are your future ambitions or dreams?

I would really love to have a big exhibition in a prestigious museum. I also want my upcoming projects to go as planned. Then I still want to see the world, and possibly do a longer artist residency period for example in Japan. But before anything else, I want to feel balanced and happy.

Svante Gullichsen Website: https://svantegullichsen.com/

Svante on instagram https://www.instagram.com/gullichsen/

All the walls I’ve built, 2017.