Bengt Lindström

Red Man


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Bengt Lindström 1925–2008
Original title
Röd Man
Lithograph on paper
Image: 290 × 224 mm
Transferred from the Library 1987

Catalogue entry

P08218 Red Man 1968
Röd Man

Lithograph 290 × 224 (11 3/8 × 8 3/4) on paper, same size; printed at Atelier Clot Bramsen et Georges, Paris; inset in Bengt Lindström, Un Souffle frais de vie: Ett friskt svep av liv: A Fresh Sweep of Life, published by Bokhusläningens AB, Uddevalla, Sweden 1968 in an edition of 300
Inscribed ‘Lindström’ below image b.r. and ‘97/300’ below image b.l.
Transferred from the Library 1987

‘Red Man’ depicts a head with an enlarged eye and an open mouth. The features are bright green and red, against a bright yellow ground. P08218 was made in Paris, where Lindström has lived for many years. It was included in a special edition of three hundred copies of a tri-lingual publication on the artist, which had an introductory essay by Anders Lidén. According to Lindström, the edition to which P08218 belongs was not intended for the book into which it was inserted. He said that there was ‘no special reason’ for selecting this particular edition, except that it was the only one available at the time. He wrote that the size of the edition to which P08218 belongs determined the number of copies of Un Souffle frais de vie which received it as an inset. Lindström's comments come from a telephone conversation with Jan Kron, made on 19 February 1993. Their discussion was relayed to the compiler by Jan Kron in a conversation on 22 February 1993 and in a letter of 14 March 1993. Jan Kron is a lifelong friend and collector of Lindström's work.

Lindström explained that the title describes a native American Indian. Lindström told Kron that ‘the Indians are spiritually allied to the Lapps (Laplanders) and most of my works are about the Lapps, their faith and mysticism, myths, magic, witchcraft’. He declined to give further detail on the links between the Lapps and North American Indians and said he did not have in mind any specific myths or customs linking the two peoples. Their myths and legends are a recurrent theme in Lindstrom's large body of paintings and prints. He consistently uses bright colours and most of his images consist of single or multiple figures, frequently with distorted features.

Lindström said that the theme of ‘Red Man’ was ‘in line with what I was working with at that time’. He said that he ‘did it unconsciously’, and continued, ‘almost all my works have more or less demonic elements in them inspired by the Lapps (and the [North American] Indians as well)’. Lindström mentioned to Kron that he owns a real troll-drum, knives made by Lapps and was himself involved in Lapp baptismal ceremonies following his birth. One such was ‘rot-dragen’ (or ‘dragging under the roots’), in which a child is dragged through a hollowed-out passage under the roots of a tree, ‘in order’, according to Jan Kron, ‘to make him strong’ and ensure protection from danger and illness. The artist explained that ‘my works have a main theme, i.e. Lapps, Lapps and Lapps. This work [P08218] is not a turning point in terms of technique or subject’.

P08218 is similar in size to the artist's ‘Nyarskort’, or New Year greeting cards. In the late 1950s Lindström began sending drawings as greetings to collectors and friends at the New Year. From about the mid-1960s he began to make lithographic editions, which were sent instead of drawings. He has continued this practice ever since. These editions, mostly printed in Paris, are usually of similar dimensions to P08218. This format enabled the artist to make four lithographic prints at a time, although he stated that he has only done this once or twice. More frequently, he wrote, prints were pulled from two lithographic stones simultaneously, or he made a single image. P08218 was printed on its own. Lindström stated that P08218 has no connections with his New Year's greeting cards beyond sharing similar dimensions and being in an equally large edition.

The artist has approved this entry.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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