Tracks of Music
Kjell Engman’s incredible glass orchestra
Kjell Engman celebrates 45 years at Kosta Boda with a spectacular exhibition of his “glass orchestra” at the Kosta Boda Art Gallery.
Music and glass are both lifelong loves for artist and designer Kjell Engman. When Kjell unites these elements in his mythical glass orchestra, it is a dream come to fruition – a resonant, whimsical, joyful consequence of his 45-year career as a glass artist with Kosta Boda. His incredible orchestra has roots dating back to when Kjell was fourteen years old and started his first dixie band, with a homemade double bass, banjo and washboard. The banjo and washboard are both included as reminders of these origins.
Kjell Engman is from a musical family, and he plays the bass. Music has always permeated his glass art – not only in his popular glass instruments, but in the dancing musicality and joie de vivre conveyed by his figures, objects and settings.
As a glass artist, Engman has always been a storyteller. He is passionate about building imaginary worlds of glass and other elements – sets, lighting, and other effects, such as fragrance and of course, music, soundtracks. Kjell usually arranges the music for his installations himself, but for Tracks of Music, he handed the task of composition to the young Finnish producer Sampo Wiik. “I thought that since the orchestra is so personal, it would be nice to step back when it came to the actual music selection,” says Engman.
The exhibition includes around eighty glass sculptures and other objects – instruments from around the world, such as trumpets, guitars, lute, African calabash, violin, an assortment of imaginary instruments, a drum set, and a large singer on a stage. The glass orchestra is accompanied by two monumental paintings, a six-meter-wide projection with a “glass wave” and intricate lighting. As usual, Kjell Engman wants to offer a triggering multiple senses.
“I’m passionate about the larger context, the overall whole. I love building worlds, creating moods and actions. I think of my installations as movies without dialogue – like I’m the director and the glass figures are my actors. My aim is to spark the viewer’s sense of empathy, not to dictate any truths. The more interpretations, the better.”
So indeed, it is beautiful that with Tracks of Music, Kjell Engman has shouldered yet another new role in his fantastic dream world in glass, color and form – not just as a director, but as an orchestral leader, a conductor, an impresario of glass. With his ensemble of unique glass instruments, made in partnership with master-blowers and the other craftspeople in the studio in Kosta, Kjell invites the viewer’s imagination to dance.
Kjell Engman - Tracks of Music
Kosta Boda Art Gallery April 29 – September 23, 2023