Review: Nina Hemmingsson – “På a svarar jag hej då.”

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Sad, happy, concentrated, down-and-out, experimental, angry. This is a collection of art by Nina Hemmingsson, one of the best graphical artists in Sweden. Her “crudely” drawn strips expose Swedes with the inherent darkness that surrounds us, as we try our best to push it away even though it’s blatantly there.

Reading Hemmingsson often makes me think that she is eerily able to pinpoint both the oh-so-slackly referred-to human condition to a T, while simultaneously varying her art so that it feels fresh and timeless at the same time, which is an art in itself, and all the while I often laugh aloud at her observations.

The human sex is often brought up, not at all crudely; Hemmingsson carries interesting views on gender, and these are almost always on display. I can often feel anxiety in single-frame strips where a character is at a party, sporting an extremely unsettling face while saying the most mundane stuff aloud.

Almost all of the characters drink wine, almost all of the time. It’s also interesting; perhaps it’s one of the more Swedish bourgeoisie things that exist, in order to try and hide anxiety, even though alcohol heightens it. The irony is that Hemmingsson’s pages display all of the anxiety that you can shake a stick at by simply displaying it, always on point.

I strongly recommend picking this book up; all the while, Hemmingsson’s stuff is always so good that if you’ve never read her before, feel safe in the knowledge that you can pick any of her books up and feel great value in delving lowly, perhaps wondering why you’re laughing at sadness.

Examples from the book:

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