We were many who had seen them. All of a sudden, they seemed to appear here and there and everywhere in Gothenburg; "Paste Up's" with a really cool style, created by (what we assumed) the same creative, artist who borrowed thoughtful lyrics from the Swedish artist; and "Gothenburger", Håkan Hellström's songs.
I walked past the same board at a construction site every day on my way to work and saw one of the artworks; a silhouette of a man and the tram with the text "Vi kanske ses det finns en chans på nån spårvagn någonstans" followed by a red heart. I remember immediately recognizing it as a Håkan Hellström lyric and wondering who the artist was behind the artwork. It was ingenious in its simplicity and it made my steps feel a lot lighter on my way to another heavy pass in the kitchen.
The work had no signature. So it was obvious that someone did this anonymously. Which is understandable. It's not directly legal to paste posters or prints where ever you like. But we recently had found the love for Streetart, and our rebel hearts were hoping for more.
A little later I encountered another work of art (which became one of my favorites) by the anonymous artist; a colorful image of Håkan Hellström with the street sign "Ramlar Gatan" above the artist's head on a wall at the beginning of Andra Långgatan. This is a street in Gothenburg that many associates with the party, "dance, dance, dance" and bad decisions which may have been one of Håkans own inspiration sources for the song "Ramlar". But who was the secret Street Artist?
Small Passus: And just Who is Håkan Hellström?!
For someone who doesn't have a clue about who Håkan Hellström is but is curious to understand Håkan's greatness here in Sweden, this video with an intro that started a concert with an audience record at Ullevi in Gothenburg 2014 might shed some light! One of Håkan's best songs; "Tro & Tvivel".
So much Gothenburg. So much Håkan. So much heart. So much love.
When I changed my job, also my route to work changed. No Paste Up's on my path. And I missed them. It was much later that I had the opportunity to find them again.
Hellstrom Street Art Exhibition
A poster with a name, a gallery, and just one day left on the exhibition. I decided to go right away. And the exhibition delivered another dimension to the previous meetings with the Art I had seen on the Streets.
Above all, especially after reading the captivating story about the artist behind the artworks, which is told with a great openness in the book "Hellstrom Street Art"; both by the Ghost Writer "Glen Snoddas" and the Street Artist himself, the respect for the Artwork deepened.
"It's the darkness that keeps me going, my attempts to avoid it which brings me forward. Something inside me is grateful for its existence, I think you should be familiar with your darkness as long as you don't make it your best friend" Hellstrom Street Art
The artist (still anonymous) tells a story of darkness, alienation, restlessness, anxiety, and the feeling of not being fit into a society that neither seems to understand him nor accept him for who he is. At the same time, he reveals his feelings for Street Art; an Artform that makes him feel free, calm, and happy, filling him with life and the redemptive feeling of creating and seeing his Street Art in public spaces.
Astrid Lindgren in Street Art
He explains why famous authoress Astrid Lindgren or one of her characters often is found in his art; about the escapism in her stories that reminds him of his worry-free childhood and his admiration for Astrid's way of portraying the ones that were different, who walked their own path, her engagement for child rights and always standing on the children's side.
Håkan Hellström in Street Art
He also reveals why Håkan Hellström's lyrics help him handle the reality he lives in today with the heavy and dark baggage he carries from his previous life. It was back then; in that darkest of places, a friend visited and gave him a set of pencils and paper. And somehow, he found a spark of strength and started to draw some sketches inspired by the music and lyrics of Håkan Hellström. For that, we are truly grateful.