Björn Runquist is a painter whose career ranges from abstract to still lives to landscape; from oils to graphic and back to oils. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden and immigrated to the U.S. when he was 5. He was educated in the U.S., France and England, and has made his home for the last 28 years in Connecticut and Clark Island, Maine. He has exhibited widely in galleries on the East Coast, including the Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, Maine, Bachelier-Cardonsky in Kent, CT., Horton Hayes Gallery in Charleston, SC., the Connecticut Biennial at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland and the Allan Stone Gallery in New York.
Runquist grew up in a household filled with paintings by the best of Sweden’s artists. At age 7 he began to study with Nils Strom and the life-long process of study and work has never ceased. During the eighties Runquist’s work was typified by vibrant colors and the exploration of abstract and dreamlike images on paper. Using a variety of mixed media, he composed large, often haunting images of space, both whimsical and serious, that evoked landscape, figures and the undefined space between the two. Bruce Hanson, of the Hartford Current, said of his work: “Runquist is capable of establishing a rapturous visionary world…we are left to wonder and enjoy”. Nancy Hall-Duncan, curator of the Bruce Museum wrote in the Ct. Biennial catalogue “Runquist’s work is unconventional and refreshing, witty and yet serious…there is a wonderful; joyous quality which is out of the ordinary. It is an art which is both intriguing and rich in visionary fascination...”. Carolyn Lanchner of MoMA has described his work as being filled with “originality, wit and beauty.”
In the nineties Runquist returned to landscape painting with an extended series of paintings based on water reflections. In recent years he has turned to images that are just as familiar as the earlier ones were unusual. “The continual surprise of life is always right in front of you. The dreamlike images of my earlier work have given way to the concrete world right here. A glass of water can be as interesting as a dream or as weighty as a mountain.” His paintings distill a sense of the magic and life hidden in the everyday. ”My work is a repeated affirmation - the fact that you can rise each morning and face a new day. That is enough and as such, painting is an affirmation of life. Each painting is a footprint of an experience, be it abstract or figurative – an experience framed by contemplation.” His landscapes attest to that simple wonder of being alive.
Will Barnet wrote of Runquist’s work: “Björn Runquist encompasses a broad approach to landscape painting. The American luminist tradition, the European plein air school and his modern sensibility merge into a very personal style. A certain air of romanticism permeates his work reinforced by a wonderful feeling for light and color. Beyond that, his play between light and air weaves his forms into an abstract formality. An all over sense of design transcends reality and becomes a painting reality.”
Björn Runquist’s work is in many private collections in the U.S. and abroad, including the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine and is in the State Department’s “Art in Embassies” program. He is currently represented by Gleason Fine Art, Boothbay Harbor and Portland, ME; Morrison Gallery, Kent, CT., Landings Gallery, Rockland, ME. and Horton Hayes Gallery, Charleston, SC.