In preparation for my upcoming talk at Columbia University, I spent all yesterday in Sala, at the Aguéli Museet. I am very grateful to the curator Å.C. Danell for his time in talking to myself and Jane Williams-Hogan, who accompanied me on the trip (Jane is visiting Sweden for a two-week research trip around her forthcoming biography of Swedenborg). I learned so much about Aguéli, and it was a great pleasure to spend substantial time with his actual canvases, after only looking at reproductions in various catalogues at the Kungliga Bibliotheket, or on my computer screen. There is, indeed, something unique and compelling about the light in his canvases, which starts to stand-out when his work is amassed together in the same space.

Below are some samples of things that drew my eye, images I will be adding into the file for future excavating and thinking. We also visited a monument to Aguéli in the town, dedicated in 2000, that is modeled on Islamic notions of paradise, and pleasure gardens. I made a small video of how the water flows from the fountain at the center of the memorial, down into the stream that runs through Sala. One hopes the peaceful sound of the water rushing over the stones does some measure of symbolic atonement for Aguéli in Sala, who was never welcomed or accepted during his life by the community there — not too far away by this river stood the house of his father, a violent, angry veterinarian who would beat his horses until they screamed. Aguéli would escape the terrible sound the horses by walking along the river, studying the plants and flowers like a little Linnaeus.

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Ivan Agueli — painting of Stockholm city-streets, nearby where he often stayed with the Swedenborgian pastor A. Boyesen on Observatoriegatan
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Ivan Agueli, view of the church in Visby on Gotland
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Ivan Agueli, Gotland Landscape
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Ivan Agueli, view of Stockholm

Written by devinzuber

Associate Professor for American Studies, Religion, and Literature at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies, an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) at Berkeley, California.

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