New acquisition: Glass installation by Ingalena Klenell

Nationalmuseum has recently acquired an object by artist Ingalena Klenell in kiln-cast glass called There is a thread. Ingalena Klenell’s production in recent years has been characterised by suggestive, spatial installations based on impressions from the forested Nordic landscape. Much of her art relates to existential questions and often consist of several separate and frail parts, as a reminder of the fragility of nature and the vulnerability of human beings.

Ingalena Klenell, born 1949, has a solid education from KV konstskola in Gothenburg, Hantverkets Folkhögskola in Leksand and the National School of Glass in Orrefors. She started out as a ceramist, but has been working with glass for four decades, now operating her own glassworks outside of Sunne in Värmland together with her husband Ragnar Klenell. She has worked with artistic décor in several public spaces, which is perhaps one of the reasons for the often bold and multidisciplinary formats she works with.

When Klenell attended the National School of Glass, she drew great inspiration from Bertil Vallien’s playful approach to glass, for example his experiments in casting. She was fascinated by the possibilities of the material, which went beyond the traditional boundaries. She was drawn to Vallien’s work with the “boat shape”, both as a technical experiment and as a story where both symbols and personal memories play a large role. This is something that has stayed with her through the years, and which enriches her own explorations into the possibilities and limitations of glass.

Klenell has become something of a nature poet of glass. She says herself that she was inspired by a storm that felled a large number of trees near her house. “Wood and glass are similar in the sense that we don’t think about them. Until they’re gone”. For several years, she has been creating impressive spatial installations with multiple trees in cast glass. Each tree consists of several separate, brittle pieces hanging by threads in layers. Nationalmuseum’s acquisition can be considered a snapshot of this complex glass scenography. It is a unique example of her distinctive artistry, which cannot be contained by conventional genres.

Ingalena Klenell, There is a thread. Photo: Daniel Milton.

Klenell’s suggestive glass architecture is an investigation of the possibilities of the material and of the technique. She has developed a personal approach to kiln-cast glass, where each unique piece takes over the space. You could say that her art brings forth the nature romanticism of the early 20th century with its light, water and woods. There are elements of older folk art and traditional regional storytelling, of course, but Klenell is just as much a representative of the environmental awareness of our time. Her spatial glass installations remind us of how fragile nature and life are. Klenell thus becomes a spokesperson for more profound existential questions about the fragility of nature and the vulnerability of human beings.

Nationalmuseum receives no state funds with which to acquire design, applied art and artwork; the collections are enriched through donations and funds from private foundations and trusts. The acquisition of Ingalena Klenell’s artwork is a generous gift from the Bengt Julin Foundation, through Nationalmusei Vänner.

Inventory number

Ingalena Klenell, There is a thread, NMK 92/2019