Travelling the world in search of creative direction

Swedish artist Kjell Sporrong in Estepona.
Swedish artist Kjell Sporrong in Estepona. / SUR
  • Kjell Sporrong

  • The artist studied design in New York and went on to create his own men’s fashion collection

Swedish artist and interior designer Kjell Sporrong has spent his life travelling the world exploring different creative directions. The 58-year-old decided to settle on the Costa del Sol in 2000. After spending 20 years as the driving force behind the Astracán Marbella design company, Kjell is now dedicating much of his time to his art, hosting several exhibitions along the coast over the last few years. During his last exhibition in Estepona in October, the artist sold 21 paintings. Today, he lives in Estepona with his partner Ben - a Belgian concert pianist whom he met in 2011.

Born in Stockholm in 1962, Kjell studied music at the Adolf Fredrik Music School in Sweden, although, after six years, he decided to turn his attention to fashion design.

"The music school I went to is very famous in Sweden. I studied choral singing, but I also played the flute and the piano. I have continued with the piano, but I have very tough competition at home nowadays," Kjell explains to SUR in English.

Following several "boring" years in banking, he studied at the St Göran School of Design in Stockholm and began dreaming of working in New York, Paris and London. In 1987, Kjell headed to America to study design in New York, but after just twelve months, he returned to Sweden to work at a fashion company.

"I went to the Parsons School of Design on 5th Avenue and had a great time, but I was offered what seemed to be the dream job in Stockholm a year later. I worked with the company for several years, designing my own menswear collection," he says.

In 1991, he opened the celebrated Swedish interior design and furniture shop Bohem, which, although Kjell sold before moving to Spain, is still operating today.

Boutique hotels

Kjell moved to the coast in order to open a boutique hotel, The Beach House, in La Cala de Mijas. Three years later, he opened a second hotel.

"We chose the Marbella area for the climate and sunny weather, which is kind of important when you are about to open a hotel. We started to look for the perfect place to open a small boutique hotel, and we found it in Mijas Costa. We opened our second, The Town House, in the Old Town in Marbella in 2004," he explains.

Kjell decided to dedicate time to his art shortly after arriving on the coast and he began taking classes with Mijas-based artist Joy Fahey. His art, which he describes as "contemporary and abstract", includes various techniques and he uses a mixture of media. The artist claims that one of the reasons he began to paint was because he often had problems finding the right artwork for his interior design projects.

"Painting and drawing have always been there for me as a hobby since I was a kid. It was a part of my design and fashion education.

"Doing endless numbers of interior projects here on the coast, in Sweden and in France, I have looked for so many things to put on walls, but sometimes I had a hard time finding the perfect size, colours or style, so I thought I'd better do it myself," he says smiling.

Dark colours

Much of his work has a somewhat sombre feel, as he uses dark colours and pale tones, although he has recently been using more colour and light to create his paintings. This, he explains, could be because of the current pandemic.

"I am a huge nature lover and I can get inspiration from anything I see while out hiking. For the last few years I have not been using lots of bright colours, mainly beiges, blacks, greys and white, but maybe it is because of the lockdown that I am now using a lot more colourful tones than ever," he says.

Kjell is currently working on paintings for several exhibitions he has planned for 2021. He is also looking forward to travelling the world again.

"I can't wait to show the new art in next year's exhibitions. I also look forward to being able to travel again, as I really miss that now, but every day we tell ourselves that we live in paradise, so there's no real rush," he says.