Wenche FossWenche FossWenche FossKnut HamsunHenrik IbsenHenrik IbsenHenrik IbsenHenrik IbsenHenrik IbsenPope Innocens XPope Paul IIIPope Pius XIPope John Paul IIPope John XXIII (Giovanni)HRH King Harald VHRH King Harald VH. M. Kong Harald VH.M. Queen SonjaH.M. Queen SonjaH.M. Queen SonjaH.M. Queen SonjaRamzi AburedwanLeif Ove AndsnesLeif Ove AndsnesLeif Ove AndsnesLeif Ove AndsnesLeif Ove AndsnesLars Saabye ChristensenLars Saabye ChristensenLars Saabye ChristensenLars Saabye ChristensenLise FjeldstadLise FjeldstadLeif JacobsenThorbjørn JaglandMariss JansonsMariss JansonsMariss JansonsMariss JansonsMariss JansonsMariss JansonsErik Fosnes HansenErik Fosnes HansenErik Fosnes HansenEllen HornEllen HornJan KjærstadPer Ditlev-SimonsenCarsten SmithCarsten SmithCarsten SmithLucy SmithArve SolstadArve SolstadEditor Arve SolstadEditor Arve SolstadArve SolstadGunnar StålsettGunnar StålsettArve TellefsenArve TellefsenArve TellefsenActor Rut TellefsenAnniken ThueLars TillerLars Tiller on HorsebackLars TillerJohn UgelstadJohn UgelstadJohn UgelstadJohn UgelstadFinn WagleRolv WesenlundRolv Wesenlund
Recent years

In recent years Gullvåg has received several larger individual commissions. These have increased in both volume and importance. One project creating considerable attention is his portraits of H. M. King Harald and H. M. Queen Sonja, commissioned by Oslo City.

Political commentator Herbjørn Sørebø fittingly characterized Gullvåg’s portrait of the king in his article “Portrait of the King”, Dag og Tid no. 50, 2000: “Everyone will come to stop up in front of this portrait Håkon Gullvåg has made of King Harald. It is a quality in itself, when it draws the eyes to itself. Immediately we see that it is King Harald, but not because of photographic likeness. Håkon Gullvåg has not striven very hard to achieve that, and it is not the similarity we seek when we look at it. It is the story in this portrait that captures us. This is a real person, an aging man, one who has lived. It is a king whose work is to represent. It is tiring. The medals weigh him down, yet he bears them with dignity. The background is restless. It is not unreasonable to interpret it as an expression for that unrest over the monarchy which King Harald has himself felt, yet from the portrait we see that he carries our constitutional foundation further, like a heavy burden upon his back, and he has the strength to carry this burden. Eventually those who denounce the portrait will come to see this more clearly.”

In recent years Gullvåg has also immersed himself in portraits of popes, and has set the goal of portraying all the 265 popes who have followed St. Peter.

Important portraits:
H. M. Kong Harald V, 2000 (commissioned by the City of Oslo, King’s Gallery in the banquet hall of Oslo City Hall). The format of this portrait is Gullvåg’s largest to date, measuring 250 x 160 cm. The king is presented full figure, walking toward the viewer.
H. M. King Harald and H. M. Queen Sonja, 2002 (The Royal Palace)
H. M. King Harald and H. M. Queen Sonja, 2003 (commissioned by the Foreign Office for the Norwegian Residence, London)
H. M. King Harald and H. M. Queen Sonja, 2006 (commissioned by the Military Academy, Oslo)
Actor, Theater Director and Minister of Culture Ellen Horn, 2003 (commissioned by the National Theatre)
Conductor Mariss Janssons, 2003 (a larger series purchased by Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra)
Professor Sigurd Nitter Hauge, 2003 (Rikshospitalet)
Mayor Anne Kathrine Slungård, 2004 (Trondheim City Hall)
Author Lars Saabye Christensen, 2004 (commissioned by Cappelen Publishing House)
Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, 2004 (the artist’s initiative)
Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, 2005 (the portrait is incorporated into ”The Gallery of Bishops”, Oslo Cathedral)
Bishop Kyrre Bremer, 2005 (the portrait is incorporated into ”The Gallery of Bishops”, Archbishop’s Palace, Trondheim)
Bishop Finn Wagle, 2005 (the portrait is incorporated into ”The Gallery of Bishops”, Archbishop’s Palace, Trondheim)

Two portrait-series from 2004

Two particular series of portraits from Gullvåg’s hand are of author Lars Saabye Christensen and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, both from 2004. It is interesting to compare these to see how differently Gullvåg has painted two prominent cultural personalities. The portraits of Andsnes harken back to old Norwegian traditions about mythological creatures living in the water and under waterfalls. These creatures were thought to cast spells on people with their music and then draw them into the deep. Gullvåg has encircled Andsnes with a water-like substance – green as a bewitching forest pond. Here primordial energies are released, as if through captivating magic, by elegant, strong hands.

Compared to Andsnes’ eyes that are “devoured”, as it were, by the piano, Lars Saabye Christensen directs his attentive gaze directly towards us. On the surface he is passive, yet there is intense inner activity; the author’s eyes are like whirlpools sucking everything in. The distance following from the written word’s lonely creation-process therefore marks the paintings of Saabye Christensen. In contrast to the pianist, who actively exposes himself during the performance, the author retreats after the book is published.

A feature common to both portrait-series is nevertheless their transient character. ‘Temporality’ can in fact stand as a key concept in relation to Gullvåg’s portraits. In his depictions of strong personalities we sense simultaneously the vulnerable and finite human being behind the façade.

Incidentally, it must be mentioned that Saabye Christensen allowed himself to be inspired in the process of being portrayed. The author used the time spent with Gullvåg to discuss artistic practice with him, and a year later published a novel entitled The Model.