I could quite early see that Chris was going to work with something within the artistic field, but it could have been anything really, since he had a great interest in music, film, and writing. He chose art.
On birthdays, I could get some imaginative drawing with a flying sandwich or something similar. We spent the summers in Denmark, and the art museums was always on the top of the list before visiting any theme parks or water parks. Limfjordsmuséet was a project that he would paint by the age of 8, when he was 11 years old, he became a cartoonist for Göteborgs-Posten together with a friend. Every Sunday came a new comic strip in the paper. When his friend got tired of making comics, Chris carried on doing it for a year by himself.
One day Chris got home and told me that he signed up for a life drawing course in Gothenburg. Once a week he sat together with 20 others and drew naked bodies, he was then 12 years old and the youngest in the class.
Ann-Margreth Magnusson Lundberg, Chris mother
Chris and I have gone to school together since fourth grade, but it was not until we were about fifteen years old that we really got to know each other. Before then we used to hang out with separate groups of people, myself with boys playing football and Chris with friends who skateboarded and painted on rubbish bins. And set the public bathhouse on fire– an act that in a court of law would have been classified as arson, even though no one was ever convicted of it since the of- fenders had not turned fifteen. Howsoever, we started hanging out at a common friend’s house, sat in his room, relaxing, taking snuff and listening to music. We also drank beer if we were able to get our hands on a couple of cans. There and then we also started our first rock band – a punk group that rehearsed in the music-room at the school. We were appallingly poor and quit the band as we started upper secondary school.
For a short while, Chris and I came apart since Chris started in a school specializing in arts and drama in a neighbouring municipality and I continued in the nearest school. Nevertheless we continued playing music together. Chris knew a Danish man who had a rather poor cottage without electricity that we were allowed to play in. We played in different groups with different members. Although neither of the groups sounded good, nor interesting. One day, Chris and myself stayed after rehearsals and tried to come up with new songs. It ended up with Chris playing the drums and myself the harmonica. We played a fiery, instrumental, version of Silverbullits “Magnetic City”. There and then we quit the old band and started a new – a drum and harmonica duo. Chris named the new group “Hemstad” and I approved – the name was just as good as any other name. When we first started we had a hard time writing songs, but when Chris came across an old electric organ with a built-in drum- machine, we got off on it too. We write a couple of experimental pieces with names like Tåget till Ska- gen, Kaserntorgets Charkdisco and Patrik Sjöberg. We recorded the songs in Chris’ room and burned them onto CD:s. Chris designed the cover. After that we were ready to present the songs for an audience. We decorated the cottage with various sculptures includ- ing some abstract cones in papier-mâché and a fancy
bust made from window putty depicting Sweden’s most famous high jumper. We also sprayed grafitti on the walls – I do not know what the owner of the cottage thought about it, but when I returned to the scene a couple of years ago, he had at least not painted it over . When the decoration of the venue was done, we drew power from a nearby workshop and invited our friends to “the electric spring party”. The party was quite messy. One guy fell asleep on a chair, spilling a bottle of gin on a 2000 watt construction light. The lamp caught fire and another guy saved the day as he threw himself out a window with the flaming lantern in his arms. Another guy – who had thrown off nearly all his clothes in ecstasy – got tangled up in a light strand, had an electric shock and fell in nettles roses and mud. A third guy, who I think was someone’s friend from military service and who did not know anyone else at the party fell crashing down in a knee-deep puddle that a lot of people had used as a toilet during the evening. The person fled in shame out into the sur- rounding forest. The search party never found anything but his wet trousers hanging on a branch. The concert went very well, although I do not remember much of it. At least we were good enough to have several of our friends ask if they could join the group. The band expanded rapidly to at least 8 members. From that, we got to play on real scenes in different Swedish cities . Chris took care of the bookings and wrote most of the songs . He also made music videos and networked on the Internet so that, without the rest of us knowing what had happened, he had booked a short tour in England, a concert at a festival in Småland, agreed to released a vinyl single in Italy and agreed with a U.S. record company to issue an album.
While we were played with the band joined Chris was attending various art schools in Gothenburg. I remember being a model for him, when he made his work samples applying for the first of them, as I recall, I sat naked on a footstool for several hours while Chris painted by me with crayons. It was fortunate that Chris was admitted, so that it was not in vain. I do not know if Chris fit in so well at art school, as I remember it , he spent most of his time working with his own projects, such as the band. Anyway, after two or maybe three years, during which Chris completed a couple of different preparatory arts educa- tions, and him and myself attended countless art festivals and gallery openings and drank too many beers at those events, he was accepted to art school in Umeå . It was the end for the band, but Chris and I and several of the other members of course continued to meet, although not as often as before.
Viktor Sultan, childhood friend and band mate
I started to get to know Chris the forth year at the academy. For the first three years we kind of kept away from each other for some reason. It might have been that we wore the similar clothes the first day of the academy and sported similar haircuts/mustaches or it could be that I “accidentally” stole Chris shoes during a party and then went abroad with them. I’m not sure. The last two years at the academy I started work more with him. What connected me and Chris was, except cynicism and other personal things, an interest to not have to work a dayjob after the education. We both started to learn the tattoo craft and take it more seriously around the same time. In case art wouldn’t work out you could maybe be a bitter tattooist making a decent salary of bad work. We arranged the tattoo convention Black Ink Con in Gothenburg and Stockholm with the goal to spread unprofessional tattoos to the people. I think B.I.C. was a turning point in Chris, as well as my own, practice. It was more of an artwork, in my opinion, than anything we had done before, yet when you looked at it in reference to art history it was clearly not art. As most people going through an art education the first few years at the academy you try to make art. Art in the sense of what a canon seems to consider art in the art-world. It has been the same with Chris I think You make some half-assed try to make some political state- ments, some very “deep” considerations and maybe a little reference to art history. You try to be intelligent, civilized, professional. All virtues of the artistic field. Chris is not really any of those in it’s most traditional sense. At least not in his artistic practice. The past five years I have seen Chris put all his intelligence outside of his own practice and still kept the commitment, interest and explorative aspects of the practice inside of it. When you are struggling to produce even the most simple thing is when you can see both the mistakes and the success. Something that is closer to an actual reality then display of a perfectly executed pose. And I think Chris work has developed in this direction. Trying to avoid what is considered “good” and focusing on what he craves to make no matter what might be the reason. Sometimes its a stupid haircut.
Mark Frygell, class mate and friend