Mikael Kihlman

Text by Karl Haskel

Mikael Kihlman is a very diligent artist.
He knows that the light must be visible.
Or not visible.
But it has to be there.

The light is always present in Mikael Kihlman´s images. Whether we realize it or not. And that goes for both copper graphics, lithography, and oil. Not least in his copper artwork. You will find the light also in his night images. The sky is not completely pitch-black. A faint dusk light can be reflected in the shiny, worn, slightly crooked tram tracks in the street or reflected on a pair of car-roofs. The extremely faint light in the picture tells us more about the street, the atmosphere and the artist's eye and mind, than a fully enlightened veduta picture in full sunshine would do.
In Mikael's daylight images, there is a new dimension of light: the water. The water in rainsoaked roads, in puddles in the street. The water reflects and explains. The water also provides relief, not just a mirror image. Water speaks of life. Water is hope.
It is thanks to that light that  Mikael Kihlman´s images tell that little extra to us. That may apply to the low light in his drypoints, the narrow streets where the sky is not even visible, a comforting empty sky in a shattered window of a raped city, frost feeling of a wintry birch or fumes along Venice's narrow waterways. The light tells us stories - and we listen gratefully.
The importat part of the light in Mikael´s works is coming from outside or from some hidden source. The people we see, whether they are near or far away from the observer in the picture, we experience more or less as silhouettes. They are no portraits in the normal sense. But these silhouettes are constantly involved in Mikael's portrayal of a city, a street, a story. Or one of history. They are important, even if they are anonymous. We may never know for instance who the man with the backpack is. Or where he is headed. But he is still one of those who give us the image of an entire village or urban population. We do not see them all, but we see them through Mikael Kihlman´s own narrative about them, their village or town. And we can hear them speak through Mikael's all forwarded messages, greetings, whispers, impressions. We try to interpret these characters in the picture. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes our imaginations take over the interpretations. And over our head, in the streets, threads weave intricate designs. Sometimes like messages from a musical score, a completely natural thing for the musically talented Mikael. We, no more tone-deaf viewers, may try to interpret the score the best we can. A guaranteed exciting experience.

Karl Haskel
cultural journalist



Extracts from articles in press, media and catalogues.


Mikael Kihlmans drypoints are both lived through and walked through city landscapes. A series of existential
depots that becomes visible in a high extent in both the patient memory as in an enlightening now-experience.
The pictures has a strong realistic presence but here also exists a charged and unpredictable light, that makes us see new possibilities in the steadfastness of everyday existence and its habits.
In the middle of all the rough surfaces of tram-lines and cobble-stones  we can also discover a kind of underlying structure of maps, a personal geografi that gradually is abraded as when something is about to be lifted up to the surface of our conciousness.

Thomas Kjellgren, Kristianstad Tidning



In his pictures Kihlman brings about a kind of inner, moving indefiniteness that despite its traditional starting-point confirms printmaking as an open process. Furthermore does his great artistic knowledge in the art of printmaking as such contribute to bring about fragments of ourexistence, snapshot situations, special forgotten environments and mental states to a higher poetical level.

Ljiljana Cinkul, Graficki Kolektiv, Belgrade



Mikael Kihlman is the quiet poet of the reverse side of things. In his black and white drypoints he draws the backyards, the torn out facades and the portraits of the lonely. He listens to the songs of cats and dogs, the reflections of the waters in the wet streets has his eyes, the gates, stairs, the winding streets in cities that maybe exists, or maybe not, those are his motifs.
Mikael Kihlman is a visual person, strolling about with his eye focused on the visible reality that contains those invisible dimensions we call methaphysical or magical.

Cristina Karlstam, UNT Uppsala



In a time with much experimenting with new printmaking techniques, he belongs to those who follow the old swedish traditions starting with our master of drypoint, Axel Fridell. In Kihlmans works there is something of the same fateful atmosphere in the way he handles the black and grey tones and in the carefully detailed plates.

Inger Landström, Borås Tidning



There is something of an old black and white movie in the artwork of Mikael Kihlman. He likes the drawn line, threads that wind like electrical wires here and there or antennas and recievers that needlelike stands on the rooftops.
In some cases he makes his own scratches, his own drawn lines in the existence of life sometimes with a collection of words that he thinks seem to fit. He plays the blues on the whole scale of greytones and catches an atmosphere from a time that is about to vanish, but with no traces of any nostalgia.

Ulla Brogren, NT Norrtälje



Befront Magazine 22.9 2016


UM:DRUCK, Zeitschrift für Druckgraphik und visuelle Kultur, Nummer 20 juli 2012