Sweden after the apocalypse – fm4.ORF.at

Simon Stålenhag’s retro-futuristic style is instantly recognizable when looking at his paintings. “The Labyrinth” is his fourth “narrative artbook”. And again it seduces us into dystopian landscapes.

Von Paul Pant

Since 2013, Simon Stålenhag has garnered a huge fan base, especially online, with his signature artwork. His hyper-realistic pictures thrive on contrast. 80s retro look sinks into SciFi dystopias, so to speak “Stranger Things” meets “Star Wars”, meets “The Walking Dead”.

The Verge, Wired and Britain’s Guardian have written hymns of praise for his images. Around 200,000 fans of digital art now follow him on Twitter. With this fan base, Stålenhag was originally able to finance his fourth book “The Labyrinth” through crowdfunding. 400,000 euros came together within a very short time. Two years later, Tor Verlag has now translated its “narrative art book” into German and reissued it. Like the original in a high-quality design: the book cover in half linen, four colors and large format.

Simon Stålenhag / S. Fischer / Tor Verlag Lgp

“The Labyrinth” by Simon Stålenhag was published by S. Fischer in Tor Verlag, translated from Swedish by Stefan Pluschkat.

“The Labyrinth” tells the story of the siblings Sigrid and Matte. The scientists survived the end of the world. Charlie still lives with them, a refugee child whom they took in during the turmoil of the last days of mankind.
Seven years later, the world lies in ruins, covered in ash and ice. And Charlie, now a teenager, accompanies the siblings with a ghetto blaster and headphones on their journeys of discovery into lost Stockholm. In the seclusion of the Swedish ice desert, the three catch up with their past. In order to survive, the last humans had to erase their humanity. They defended the last place of retreat – a military base – mercilessly against everything, cleansed in cold blood of people without use.

Will we ever be forgiven for our crimes?

Images from Simon Stalenhag's graphic novel "the maze"

Simon Stålenhag

“The Labyrinth” is a story about survival, about guilt and atonement, in large, one- or two-page pictures that alternate with one-page text passages. In the German translation, this is confidently referred to as an illustrated novel. In fact, the artistic claim lies with the pictures.

Simon Stålenhag’s pictures are a masterpiece in this regard. With their wealth of detail, they come close to real photographs. Probably also because the places that Stålenhag writes about and draws really exist. The old military bastion in Kungshall in the southern Swedish port of Karlskrona becomes a secret military base in “The Labyrinth”. The Swedish landscape images are based on real photos, which Stålenhag overdraws digitally on a graphics tablet. With gigantic sci-fi objects, spaceships, combat robots and cosmic phenomena, they are composed into new pictorial worlds.

Images from Simon Stalenhag's graphic novel "the maze"

Simon Stålenhag

You can now immerse yourself in the retro-futuristic, dystopian world of Simon Stålenhag in moving images. The Amazon series From The Loop comes from Stålenhag’s pen and brush.

And from him as an electronic musician there is also the right sound for the end of the world. Stålenhag has already released several albums, with wonderful titles such as: “Music for DOS”, which was produced on an old Pentium 233. Anyone who wants to immerse themselves in Simon Stålenhag’s extensive, multifaceted, digital world will find the “Narrative Artbook” “The Labyrinth” a good starting point for dealing with the end of the world.