Tom Cullberg: Tower

Brundyn+, Cape Town, South Africa
06 Nov 2014 - 03 Dec 2014

Tom Cullberg: Tower

Tom Cullberg Untitled (Tower 3) 2014 acrylic polymer emulsion on canvas 170 x 225 cm Image courtesy of the artist and Brundyn+, Cape Town

Brundyn+ presents Tower, the thirteenth solo exhibition by Tom Cullberg.

Tower continues Cullberg’s intuitive dialogue between figuration and abstraction through a series of new paintings and sculptural works. Moving away from some of the more directly associative sources of imagery in previous exhibitions, the new body of work is simultaneously more deeply personal for the artist and thematically open for the viewer.

Cullberg intends for his paintings in Tower to be read in dialogue with each other rather than in isolation, activating them in different ways. Viewed as a whole, the works take on an installation-like quality. As Mary Corrigall notes:

Through the display of his paintings Cullberg establishes discrete groups of works in anticipation of a relationship that might emerge or has existed in their creation. This affords Cullberg a rare liberty, the opportunity to continuously ‘recompose’ his work. This is something that is usually denied to painters who are typically forced to fix the composition in the act of painting.

Eschewing any specific or prescribed meaning, the experience of the works in Tower is akin to tuning channels on an old tube television set with no specific destination in mind. Set against a flourish of abstract painterly static, recognizable images leap forth, dissociated from their original contexts, and instead become part of a continuous flow of broadcast. The types of figurative images that appear are disparate: iconography from advertisements, magazines such as Vogue, news reports, various books on architecture and mid-century design, images from personal family archives, but they are ultimately democratized into a singular intuitive stream. Cullberg doesn’t aim to tell us how to think, but rather provides visual planes that may elicit thinking.

With Tower, Cullberg not only collapses the traditional dichotomy between figurative and abstract painting but appears to have identified a space where these two vocabularies are interconnected. It is through mediating on the objects or subjects of these works and untangling the multitude of associations linked to them that the artist gains access to an abstract vocabulary. Cullberg consequently embraces the spirit of abstraction on every level; beyond its ambiguous vocabulary he denies fixity of any kind.


Born in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden, Tom Cullberg currently lives and works in Cape Town. Since graduating in 1997 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, he has exhibited both locally and internationally including presentations at the Cape Town Art Fair (2014); Candyland, Stockhom (2013); SCOPE New York (2012); FNB Joburg Art Fair (2013, 2011); Goodman Gallery, Cape Town (2010); Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (2009); Magrorocca Galleria d’arte, Milan (2007), Joao Ferreira Gallery (2000-2006) and Galleri Svenska Bilder, Stockholm (2003). His work is held in private, public and corporate collections including Swedish Parliament, Hollard, Karolinska Sjukhuset, Sasol, Spier, Nandos (UK) and the South African National Gallery.




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