2017 – 2018

Fringe (I - XI)


Acrylic paint on canvas

150 x 150 cm each 


A series of square canvases in which monochromatic traces of swift activity dominate. Fusion of material, content and context, of colour and gesture. Irregularity as the visual prime mover. The grid starts to reemerge.

2013 – 2017

Länk (Link)

Wall mosaics for Stockholm Odenplan Station, Stockholm City Line

Public Commission: SL Storstockholms Lokaltrafik

Two glass mosaic wall panels: 2,50 x 16,25 m and 2,50 x 20,90 m


What is the value of ornament in art and architecture, in culture and society? Questioning the function and content of ornament was the starting point for this public commission.

My interest in the textile qualities and sculptural possibilities of painting are active elements of this work. Decorative paper chains are traditionally made from strips ofcolouredpaper that are linked together. I adapted this method to make a sculptural object out of painted and linked canvas strips. The linked canvas object was photographed, details were enlarged. The images were then processed by digital media into pixelated images and finally produced as large mosaic surfaces.

To create a physical-spatial experience and visual identity that facilitates orientation in the vast underground surroundings, I have worked figuratively with the concept of ornament. The mosaic wall panels are situated in a main passageway and connecting area of the station. The literal meaning of connection and link are indicated by location, title, and by the ornamental chain motif that also represents sequence and succession of events.

We know ornament as accessory and adornment that creates order. The meaning of the word ornament is related to the words cosmetic and cosmos, which come from Greek kosmos, meaning order or world.


2011 – 2014



Combining formal and material restraint with notions of excess and décor I started to work with reference to decorative paraphernalia such as garlands, chains, frills and fringes. It's intriguing how the aesthetic device of ornament can trigger such powerful responses as delight and antagonism.




c-print, 100 x 120 cm

A modest gravestone simply inscribed with the name Achilles.


Mind How You Go

c-print, 120 x 100 cm


2006 – 2008


Two installations: Trouble in Utopia and Fearful Symmetry

A series of paintings titled Pearl


A folly is a building that to a great extent functions as ornament. The best follies are wonderfully mad and eccentric constructions.

As monuments to affluence and excess they seem to represent both function and dysfunction in society.


Trouble in Utopia is a horizontal expanse of ninety-six stacks. A temporary and unstable structure that consists of precisely stacked wooden elements. The balance of the entire grid construction is precarious and at risk, implying aspects of tension, erosion and collapse. Another active theme is colour: the unfixed, mutable nature of colour. This work is a continuation of the earlier Lattice and Tartan works from 1997-2001.

The installation titled Fearful Symmetry includes ten silver monochrome paintings of organic figures that originate from large paint blots. The paintings are acrylic paint on acrylic glass. Small Walls (Gold) is also part of this installation and consists of five lightweight structures made of wooden elements that are placed unfixed on the floor. They function as simple boundary lines that define new interior spaces, creating a different and temporary order in the space. During the exhibition the Small Walls get displaced by unsuspecting visitors. Some people react by carefully rebuilding, others move swiftly on and away.

The organic emblems of the seven Pearl paintings are also derived from large paint blots. Making paint blots requires actions of folding and unfolding. The blots are random shapes, open, vacant images that await responses of association and reference. A pearl begins as a response to an irritant. An abnormality that grows, layer upon layer, to become a thing of value.


2001 – 2005

Pure and Promiscuous


Photography is an accessible and suggestive medium that encourages construction, exaggeration and distortion. Working with photography is an extension of my work with painting, sculpture and installation. Having addressed modernist dogma and redressed the Grid, I wanted to take a closer look at issues of nature and narration connected to aspects of gender and vanity. In these photographic works I continue to examine the formal properties, attributes and connotations of the vertical and the horizontal. Pure and Promiscuous is a way to describe an active condition of mutable circumstance that is open to changing perspectives and unpredictable outcomes.

I am Nature

Series of 8 c-prints, 84 x 69 cm each, 2001


The title refers to Jackson Pollock’s response to the question ‘Why don’t you paint nature?’ 

This series of ‘tree and fence’ images demonstrates identification with nature as a physical body. I was interested in the impulse of attributing nature with human sensitivity and emotion. The various figures of ‘tree and fence’ depict interactions between the formal and the corporeal, between construction and nature. They underline a basic recognition of the interrelation of man and nature. Another interpretation could be ‘nature as the source of order’.


Series of 10 pairs, c-print, 100 x 83 cm each (x 2), 2002-2004

Paradoxical phrases such as ‘pointedly foolish’, ‘seriously funny’, ‘bitter sweet’ and ‘pretty ugly', became the starting point for this series of paired photographs.The word ‘close’ changes due to context, intonation and pronunciation. Shifting meaning from the near and connected into an enclosed place or a stifling atmosphere. 'Close' can imply similarity or a sense of intensity. 


The arrangement of paired photographs invites considerations of repetition, sequence, contrast and comparison. 

A collection of 'strangely familiar' episodes, obscure narratives and intimate observations. A matter of being close, not closed.

Impression - Self - Soap - Nausea

Series of 6 c-prints, 89 x 70 cm each, 2003

By making a spectacle of myself, I address aspects of perception, body and gender.

The series titled Impression refers to the body as material for aesthetic creation and site for experience and contemplation. 

Skin as a border between self and the world. A notion of art practice as a ‘second skin’ that absorbs and protects.

What is only skin deep and what gets under your skin?


1997 – 2001

Lattice and Tartan

Painting, three-dimensional constructions and installation


The horizontal and vertical directions of the grid meet textile connotations and questions of clan identity. Scottish tartans are vibrant grid patterns, traditionally woven as a woollen cloth, each clan with their own pattern and heroic motto. The grid is a basic formal device that became an emblem and visual motto for modernism and minimalism. Imagine Piet Mondrian dancing boogie-woogie in a kilt.


1997 – 1998


Stage curtain for the main auditorium of Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Public commission: Statens Konstråd, Stockholm

Velvet, H x B: 4,6 x 17 m


Velvet is probably the most common fabric used for stage curtains. I was interested in the interplay of the alternating, contrasting qualities of the shiny and matt surface of the velvet textile. The contrasts of the visible and the hidden, the obverse and reverse sides of the fabric. The ordinarily reverse and hidden surface of the velvet fabric has been inverted and given a prominent position. This 'other side' of the velvet fabric is seen as two asymmetrically placed, pale green vertical stripes. The curtains monochrome vertical stripes have the same width as that of the surrounding wooden paneling. 'Ridå' is Swedish for stage curtain. 


1994 – 1995




After working with the dense symbolism of the Major Arcana, I wanted to use colour as a lighter, purer substance, unnamed other than as content. The interior of each Container consists of different combinations of monochrome planes. The reflected colour from these painted surfaces creates illusory and luminous spaces. A vertical opening in each Container controls physical access. The more open the Container is to physical entry, the fainter the interior colour becomes. The most closed Container gives a dark and black impression. The remaining four Containers give impressions of glowing red, fluorescent green, blushing rose, and evaporating pink.


1991 – 1993

22 Paintings

Twenty-two paintings, oil on canvas, 192 x 82 cm each


Two concentric circles, a small circle within a much larger. I laughed at the humorous yet derisive interpretation of the abstract-geometric image being a 'sleeping man with large sombrero'. The friction between the abstract and the representational, the self-referential and the symbolic-narrative called for closer inspection.


The symbols and allegories of the Tarot present a curious and compelling mix of the popular and the obscure. The twenty-two trump cards and Major Arcana of the Tarot, numbered 0 – 21, can be interpreted as a pictorial procession of life’s significant events. Used for fortune telling, the Tarot is connected to occult divination and esoteric traditions such as the Kabbalah and numerology.


In my version of the Major Arcana I tried to achieve balance between contrasting principles and conflicting dogma. My intention was to combine a formal, minimalist vocabulary with vivid colour, quasi-figurative elements and highly symbolical, metaphorical titles.

                                                                     © 2017 Sunniva McAlinden