In connection with a study tour to Rome, he develops a series in collaboration with Elisabeth Romberg, resulting in the exhibition Rome
. The Colosseum pictures as well as the portraits of popes began as part of the Rome-series. In recent years Gullvåg has delved deeply into pope-portraits, and has the goal of portraying all of the approximately 265 popes since St. Peter.
During this period he completes his third literary series, also this time spawned from one of Oscar Wilde’s novels: The Ballad of Reading Gaol
(1898), where Wilde describes experiences from his incarceration at Reading Prison in 1895-97. The poem is an appeal against the death penalty; the main protagonist is a fellow prisoner on death row, and Wilde describes how the death sentence and prison life rob all those involved of their human dignity.
Gullvåg has not only depicted scenes from the poem, but has also actualised them as a reminder that the poem is also relevant for our own era. The series consists of 20 circular paintings on small wood panels.fibre board. The round form can function as a symbol for eternal repetition – for this is a relevant theme as long as the death penalty is practiced.
Central works: Still Life
(Trondheim Art Museum) Still Life
(Lillehammer Art Museum) Self Portrait in Chair
(Queen Sonja’s Collection) Rebekka
(collection of the artist) Åsa
(collection of the artist) Jack Rabbit
(purchased by the Norwegian parliament as a wedding present for Crown Prince Håkon)
In 2004 Gullvåg purchased Hospitalsløkkan 20a, in Trondheim, which eventually will house magazines for artworks, as well as several large studios. He also has plans of developing a portrait gallery here. Meanwhile, he has closed a studio in Oslo, and moved into a different studio at Ekely, wellsuitedwell suited for larger paintings. This is because in recent years Gullvåg has received a number of larger individual commissions. The commissions have increased both in volume and in importance – leading not only to his increased recognition, but also to a place in the media spotlight. These paintings have been the most discussed and controversial works of his career – indeed, it has been several decades since Norway last witnessed an artist who managed to trigger so much debate and at such intensity.
Gullvåg has also made many daring and un-sellable projects during this period, and explored other, non-museal arenas for his paintings. One project that proved to be the wellspring for particular attention is the commission from Oslo Municipality for portraits of the king and queen. His works temporarily mounted in Nidaros Cathedral, Paintings for a Cathedral
, Summer 2005, also have created great media attention and many heated debates.
Gullvåg still continues to start mostly from a dark background, but the richness of swarming details is now replaced by more unified, firmer compositions. He has in many ways become more monumental in his expression. Pictures with references to his own experiences and those of his children remain important – they seem to be part of the ground water that oozes up into his studio from time to time – and demand to have their being, between portraits and commissions, without caring whether his schedule is overflowing, as has been the case in recent years.
Central motifs: Paintings for a Cathedral
, Nidaros Cathedral, Summer 2005
Portraits of H. M. King Harald
and H. M. Queen Sonja