An essay about the artist Hans Hedberg by
Ulf Hård af Segerstad

[Svenska] [Français]


He is the Swedish ceramic fruit-grower, well-known within the circles of international experts, who lives in Biot on the French Riviera. His large-scale pumpkins, apples, lemons and plums made in stoneware are to be found, larger than life, in a large number of museums and private ceramic collections all over the world. These fruit sculptures do not require any signature. They bare all over them the charachteristic trademark of Hans Hedberg, moulding and glazing expert, who for half a century has made France his second home.

This double geographical belonging is the background to Hedberg's artistry. He personifies the Scandinavian feelings for nature implanted in the cultural roots of southern Europe. In 1947 he became the first foreign post-war student at the famous ceramics institute at Faenza, Italy. The colouristic form of glazing combined with the mouldability of clay, captivated both the painter and sculptor in him. It was this classic Italian tradition which Hans Hedberg took with him when he moved down to Biot in 1949 and constructed his own kiln.

Hans Hedberg does not produce his works of art in the way that a craftsman would. He pours them into plaster moulds just like a sculptor. His own personal ceramic style was formed in the 1970's with the original design `The Egg´. From a long and richly varying series off eggs, he made some of them grow up to a height of 90 cm, a technical achievement. Ceramics is a maturing law of nature. When Hans Hedberg took the step from the egg to the no less symbolic `Apple´, he literally became the ceramic grower who allows his fruit to ripen through nature's own cause, within the scorching heat of the kiln's flames. As befitting a gardener he is the tireless, thorough and meticulously observant guardian of a course of nature, which he himself has initiated and takes full responsibility for.

The glazing on these eggs and fruits quickly developed into a wealth of expression and fascinating glimmer, which attracted attention at exhibitions in Paris and other centres of art. There have so far been around 100 appearances of his work around virtually the whole world and his eggs and fruits can be found in over thirty leading collections.

As a younger colleague and friend of previous residents Matisse, Picasso and his ceramics student Chagall, Hans Hedberg adds to maintain the French Riviera's renown as an area of artists. However, when the light Scandinavian summer approaches he is to be found at his place of birth, close to the town of Örnsköldsvik in northern Sweden, by the ragged coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. The Swedish forests, mountains and sea remain vital requirements for him to be able to preserve his identity as a Scandinavian artist within a Mediterranean culture.