Digital print-outs of drawings, texts and contracts mounted on a table

Johan Tirén, Drawings Made From Collected Descriptions, No. 6, 2007– Digital print-outs of drawings, texts and contracts mounted on a table © Johan Tirén

Johan Tirén

In the project Drawings Made From Collected Descriptions, in progress since 2007, Johan Tirén executes drawings according to descriptions collected from the buyers of his works. The artist and buyer never meet, but the assignment is conveyed by an intermediary.

The seller of the first series of drawings is the artist Mia Rosasco, and the second the curator Niklas Östholm. The seller finds buyers independently of the artist. The various stages of the purchasing process are regulated by two contracts: one between the artist and seller, and one between the artist, buyer and seller.

The work consists of the contracts, the buyers’ description of the drawings and print-outs of digital copies of the artist’s pictures. The drawings are not exhibited in original, nor is the picture the main concern. Is artistic freedom curtailed by the contract? The project dethrones concepts such as authenticity and intention, while the buyer is upgraded to the status of being the artist’s equal. Yet, the drawing is undeniably a result of Johan Tirén’s interpretation.

Johan Tirén’s art stems from an avid interest in social issues. Several of his earlier works have taken place outside the framework of the art institution, in his quest to explore his own field. One of the objectives of the project is to identify the expectations and values that largely characterise and categorise the contemporary art scene. Johan Tirén examines the relationship between financial and artistic value. How do the three parts of the project influence one another? If we know that the buyer is a well-known figure on the art scene – does that affect how we look at the drawing? And at how it is described? Johan Tirén’s project forces us to pose new questions about the position of the work of art. And of the artist.

Johan Tirén

Born 1973 in Stockholm
Lives and works in Stockholm


2003–2004 Konsthögskolan i Malmö/Malmö Art Academy, Malmö
1989–2003 Danske Kunglige Konstakademi/Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Köpenhamn/Copenhagen [DK]

Selected group exhibitions

2009 There is No Audience /An Exhibition about Public Imagination, Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz [ES]
2009 Labyrint 09, Botkyrka Konsthall, Botkyrka
2009 Open Encouragement, Marabouparken Annex, Sundbyberg
2008 Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding, Parsons The New School for Design, New York [US]
2008 The Unfair Fair, 1, 1 Projects, Rom/Rome [IT]
2007 Those Who Control the Past Command the Future – Those who Command the Future Conquer the Past, Overgaden – Institut for samtidskunst/Institute of Contemporary Art, Köpenhamn/Copenhagen [DK]

Selected bibliography

Christian Hillesø, Kate Steinmann, Johan Tirén, ”Democracy, Economy, and Power”, Fillip #10, 2009.
Tone Olaf Nielsen, ”Reality under the Influence”, A Guide to the Exhibition Those Who Control the Past Command the Future – Those Who Command the Future Conquer the Past (utst.kat./, Overgaden, Köpenhamn/Copenhagen, 2007.
Frans Josef Petersson, ”Freedom and Self-Instrumentalization”, Framework, juni/June 2007.

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