Carl Linnaeus and Michel Östlund together make a duo which provided the basis for the Nature Morte Exhibition which will be inaugurated on the 25th of October in the Polish Maritime Museum in Gdańsk. The exhibition is one of the events celebrating Linnaeus’ 300th birthday and has been organised by the Consulate General of Sweden in Gdansk.
Linnaeus’ main work, his precious legacy for subsequent generations, was to provide us with an understandable structure of Nature. By collecting and classifying all the animals, plants and stones and also by giving them their final names Linnaeus contributed to the development of science. Until the great geographic discoveries during the Renaissance were made, people had not been aware of the multitude of species. And when the geography of our world became clearer, its fauna and flora remained impenetrable. Linnaeus was not a keen traveller. He was required to travel all over his own country, and he chose to send his students to the most remote parts of the world to collect plants and animals for him. The inexperienced young men abandoned their flowerbeds in the Uppsala gardens and rushed to meet oceans, deserts and jungles. Half of them paid for it with their lives. But in return they are forever commemorated. The flowers planted on their graves were named after them. Purposefulness was the highest priority for Linnaeus. The always-returning question he used to ask when confronted with new, unknown species was: What is the purpose of it?
This is exactly the question which the artist Michel Östlund has put forward. His work on Saint Bridget of Sweden and the Apostles of Jesus recently aroused lots of interest in Sweden. This year however the Linnaeus Apostles are on the table. The artist rescued them from oblivion, and painted portraits of six of the apostles with the flowers named after them. The works are oil paintings and glass objects. Michel Östlund is also a designer of the Linnaeus Anniversary 2007, of its official logotype, of a medallion for the King and Caesar of Japan and also of the jubilee designed memory stamps. Recently, together with the photographer, Ingvar Eriksson, he documented places strongly connected with Linnaeus. The result of their efforts is a unique photograph collection. We can imagine the figure of Linnaeus on the photographs, accompanied by his students in the background, before they set off to the far world.
26.10.2007 – 20.11.2007