Bo Hylander


Bo Hylander was born in Malmö, Sweden in 1941. He grew up in a creative environment and with cartoon heroes like Fantomen, Mandrake the Magician and Superman. He was especially fascinated by their struggle for the good, against evil. He studied to become a photographer, but felt a strong urge to travel. In 1962, he made a long journey through Europe and Africa. In 1964, he started his studies at Målarskolan Forum (Forum Painting School) in Malmö and graduated two years later. After three years, he showed his first solo exhibition in Lund. The turning point of the life of Bo Hylander came in Stockholm in the beginning of the 70’s. He lost a love, his life cracked and after this, a new era begins: the period after the mental explosion in his life. He returned to Malmö and since the mid 80’s, he has had several solo exhibitions in Malmö, Gothenburg, Stockholm and Norrköping in Sweden and Copenhagen in Denmark.

Bo Hylander often paints self portraits. In strong forms and vivid colours, he dresses his emotions in both words and images. He lets the inner of chaos and turbulence pass over in his works; he brings fragments of his life and grows narratives in front of our eyes. It is so obvious that the internal is born in the external. There is a crowding of strong emotions like shoals of agony and distress. During the whole process, there are remnants from events of life gone by, to which are added new impressions. Everything comes off and continues to live in his images. Bo Hylander does not paint to please others; he paints for himself, for his own needs, to dissolve nightmares and to restrain his dark demons, if so only for a while. They return and he paints again and again – he paints and he paints and nothing happens, so he says himself. In his flat, he walks around among his own canvases, daily being together with his emotional portraits. It is hard to imagine a life for Bo Hylander without his images. In this sense, his life is strongly intertwined with his art.

Words are strong and have immediate meaning to Bo Hylander. He likes to write and to talk; he enjoys writing shorter narratives and aphorisms with a punch. But his emotions defeat the words which are not sufficient to embrace and describe his feelings. These are instead done more justice and find their own room in his images. And yet, he tries to seize major existential issues of threat, disturbances, losses, deceits and illness in his writings. He often returns to the theme of being outside the world of others’; he sees himself as being in a space of chaos and chrisis, of staying in non-existence. He feels excluded with his thoughts and emotions as his words are not sufficient to communicate with others. Instead, in his images, he tells us about his world.

This is an attempt to describe, decipher and analyse the work of Bo Hylander and simultaneously, it is an attempt to understand his life. This and his visual art are two entities which are so close to one another. Often his emotions are to be seen in faces, faces which are exposed to threats, fears and attacks from the exterior, although already tormented by inner demons and nightmares. In a face all of this exists in a concentrate, addressing you directly as the observer. It is an informal art with strong colouristic contrasts.

The art of Bo Hylander is a constant exploration, an incessant digging inwards, to keep the channels open between an internal life and an externally created imagery. His work is similar to no one else’s.

This text aims to give light to the life and thoughts of Bo Hylander, and also to give an introduction and entrances to his major and vivid world of visual art.

Translation Joanna Thede

Untitled, 2011, Akrylic on canvas, 116 x 89 cm
Untitled, 2011, Acrylic on canvas, 116 x 89 cm
Untitled, 2011, Acrylic on canvas, 116 x 89 cm
Untitled, 2011, Acrylic on canvas, 116 x 89 cm