Sara Arrhenius, patron of the Swedish Institute

With her XXL glasses that frame a penetrating gaze, Sara Arrhenius has the pure look of an art critic, unless it is that of a trendy gallery owner or a woman of letters. Normal: the new director of the Swedish Institute has successively been all of these, as evidenced by her CV provided.

First a cultural journalist in a major Swedish daily, she then went through the looking glass to become an exhibition curator and, after that, manage major cultural institutions in her country: the international artists exchange program , the art gallery of the Bonniers Foundation – a major Stockholm publisher – and, from 2017, the Stockholm School of Fine Arts (Kungliga Konsthögskolan). All this while also devoting himself to writing essays on the masculine-feminine, on perversion in art, on music, etc.

Here is this intellectual at the head of the Swedish Institute, one of the most original institutions in the Marais: she took up her duties there in January, after around ten predecessors who have succeeded one another on rue Payenne since 1971. In accordance with tradition, she is also cultural advisor to the Swedish embassy in France.

“My links with France go back to primary school: I was educated at the French School in Stockholm,” she says, sitting at the Fika café, the restaurant of the Swedish Institute. During my schooling, I went to France several times. Subsequently, I studied French in Paris and Stockholm. As a journalist, my very first article was devoted to the French artist Sophie Calle,” says Arrhenius, who has long had a network in the Parisian cultural world.

Marsh ? She already knows. “I came there in the 1980s and 1990s,” she says. At the time, I frequented the Yvon Lambert gallery and the Chantal Croussel gallery, then located on rue Quincampoix and today, on rue Charlot. Seeing how the neighborhood has transformed since then is fascinating, says this regular visitor to the Marais galleries and museums.

His favorites? “The European House of Photography, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation but also the Cognacq-Jay Museum, without forgetting all the others as well as the Cité Internationale des Arts, where I go on Wednesdays for the open days,” lists the insatiable director.

Exhibition room of the Swedish Institute

“There are so many things to see in the Marais, that you could live an entire life there without leaving the neighborhood,” smiles Sara Arrhenius who seems delighted to have landed in a capital which, according to her, “is more active than London or Berlin. For her part, the director is eager to leave her mark through programming that she wants to be daring.

Its first curation will be devoted to the artist Sara-Vide Ericson. “She is the shining star of a younger generation of Swedish figurative painters,” she explains. With great skill and painterly seduction, she takes the viewer into an enigmatic world of magic, sexuality, magical nature and colorful sensualism. The exhibition opens on October 16 and you absolutely must discover it on site! », concludes Arrhenius.

Founded in 1971, the Swedish Institute, located on rue Payenne, is a cultural meeting place which receives more than 100 visitors each year. It offers exhibitions (photography, design, painting), film screenings, concerts, debates, Swedish language courses. And of course, its famous Fika coffee.

 Swedish Institute
11, rue Payenne, 75003 Paris
Wednesday to Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 18:00 p.m.
Tel: +01 44 78 80 20 XNUMX

Text: Axel G
Photos: ©Swedish Institute

28.04.23

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