Sonja Reinfeldt was an artist and an important representative for modern textile art in Sweden.
Sonja Reinfeldt was born in 1917 and grew up in a white collar worker’s home in Helsingborg. Cultural interests certainly did not dominate their lives, but were encouraged. When she was 16 years old, she started attending the art school Högre konstindustriella skolan (later Tekniska skolan, now Konstfack) in Stockholm where she was educated until 1939. The year after, she was accepted at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and was educated there until 1945. Her professor of painting was Sven X-et Erixon. When she had qualified, Sonja Reinfeldt immediately started working as an hourly paid teacher of painting at Konstfack until 1950 when the academy appointed her to be the assistant teacher of painting.
During her education in Stockholm, Sonja Reinfeldt met Alvar Jansson, an artist colleague who was five years younger than she. The couple married in 1949, and the year after, their son Johannes was born. She exhibited her canvases at galleries in Stockholm during the 1950s, among other the Galerie Æsthetica, and also in Malmberget and Boden. The family grew when their son Felix was born and in 1957, the Reinfeldt-Janssons moved to Ravlunda in Österlen in the province of Skåne. Sonja Reinfeldt and Alvar Jansson divorced in 1972.
At the end of the 1950s, Sonja Reinfeldt started to work with textiles. The pictures she had originally created with her brush were now woven in woollen yarn. Her figurative motifs, created with graphic sureness in a colourist style were very well adapted to the new material.
For a while during the 1960s, she worked for the Skåne MMF AB in Båstad that had been founded after Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s death in 1941, and towards the end of the decade, she received assignments for large-scale tapestries, commissioned for the many public buildings that were being constructed at that time; for example the hospitals in Kristianstad and Helsingborg as well as the Myndigheten för Samhällsskydd och Beredskap (MSB) in Revinge. During the 1970s, she was awarded several work scholarships that allowed her peace for working and in 1977 she was awarded the Föreningen Svenska konstnärinnors travel bursary. When she retired at the age of 67, she received the Konstnärsnämnden’s pension contribution.
Sonja Reinfeldt was professionally active well on in years, without a break. For example, in 1991 she enjoyed a bursary-funded atelier sojourn in Cairo when she was 74 years old. When she had her 90th birthday in 2007, a jubilee exhibition was held at the Ystads Konstmuseum. Three years later, Tomelilla art hall housed a solo exhibition of her works.
The many journeys undertaken by Sonja Reinfeldt throughout her life – to the European Mediterranean countries but also to India, the USA and the Caribbean – were important for her work as an artist. Besides that, she was interested in and engaged in societal issues, which also left its impression on her art. One example is when she wove pictures of people who had suffered during the war in Bosnia during the 1990s, based on news reports. People and especially faces, skilfully captured with a few lines to mark light and shade, are a recurrent motif, irrespective of whether the technique is painting or weaving. An ox skull is also depicted several times; a suggestive motif that relates both to fertility rites in antique temples and more modern documentary photographs of dried-up nature and starving animals and people.
When Sonja Reinfeldt was interviewed on her methods in 2010, she explained that “everything I do must go through my head”, which bears witness to the fact that her world of images, that at first sight may appear as a happy-go-lucky flow, is actually characterised by intellectual work and concentration to an equally high degree as by colour and form.
Sonja Reinfeldt died in 2013. She is buried in Ravlunda Cemetery.