Peter Gustavsson


10 august

Kalv’s school house


Free admission

Peter Gustavsson & 40f | Notes on light – musical painting

About the event  

This year the Kalv festival invited Peter Gustavsson to decorate Kalv’s school house with his sonorous paintings. During the entire festival weekend, between the concerts, you can let the reverberations of the concerts turn into colorful splendor here in the heart of the festival, the schoolhouse. Several of the paintings have been inspired by composer Kaija Saariaho’s music, and this exhibition thus becomes part of Kalvfestivalen’s tribute to her legacy. This is how Peter himself writes about how music and artistry went hand in hand throughout his life:  

“A possible starting point for describing my art could be to make a bit of a time travel to the large, bright corner room with a bay window that belonged to my friend, the composer. In this imaginative musical world of his, full of literature, dreams and young creativity, I was introduced to modern art music. From Olivier Messiaen (a big favorite) to musique concrete and electronic music. The year was 1976 and I had returned from a year of art studies in Gothenburg and, with the help of my friend, I now immediately found myself travelling deep into the worlds of avant-garde, in which everything seemed possible. A journey of discovery that is still ongoing after almost 50 years.  

To some extent I was already oriented in more modern art and literature because I grew up in a family with a strong interest in education, but the meeting with my friend and also his partner, a very talented and modern-oriented artist, resulted in a perspective towards another and a much more extensive and varied landscape than the one I had been in so far.  

Together we orientated ourselves in and explored truly modern art, literature and music. Curiosity knew no bounds.  

The artist and I started experimenting with Land Art very early on, cautiously approaching different forms of conceptual art. We read, discussed, and got involved in everything from the situation of refugees, to trying to revive the then somewhat dormant cultural life in our hometown Varberg.  

It was an incredibly formative and dynamic time that I still draw nourishment from.  

The starting point for my preferences in painting has probably since those years been the actual development of abstract painting. Early and exciting directions and ideas, many of which in my opinion were abandoned too quickly for something new. That time was a goldmine.  

The other interests from which I have drawn inspiration over the years were largely already there, including the scientific ones. Perhaps the strongest was (and is) the great wonder at the cosmos that almost made me choose astronomy as a career. The colors, shapes and light found in the coastal sea; the worlds of the small rock crevices and seaweed, have captivated me since childhood and over the years several suites of paintings have been added that have that theme as a starting point. “Ett Tångspartitur” and paintings from the suite “Stella Maris” will be included in the exhibition.  

The garden world in which I grew up has left a deep impression on me and can be found in my painting. The garden as greenery and physical reality but most of all as a condition. A sometimes unruly geography of feelings and thoughts, which can act as a mirror in human life.  

Perhaps 30 years ago, individual paintings began to find each other in an exciting and directly fruitful way for me. Sequences and progressions emerged, and the images thus became significantly more interesting to me. In the diptychs or suites of pictures that consisted of even more paintings, I began to see and experience progressions and sequences, which seemed to me closely related to progressions in music. I have developed this method and sometimes I can guess almost playable scores. The possibilities of interpretation interest me deeply.  

And so, it is with (the modes of) the mind; something that I have only recently come to delve into properly. Much of the music I listen to when I work can bring color, shape and light, but also words (or whole sentences) to me.  

There is a lot of theorizing around this, and they sometimes end up in some kind of “synesthetic wishful thinking” about a direct and completely clear correspondence between color, shape, and tone, e.g. I partly question those lines of thinking. Vassily Kandinsky and Johannes Itten were behind some of these speculations. Two incredibly important artists and teachers at the legendary Bauhaus school. That was where MY time travel had gone.  

Finally, however, I want to strongly emphasize that I am careful not to lose myself completely in the theory; how exciting it may be. My roots are to a large extent found in the marrow-filled West Coast painting. Close to the earth, close to the coast. Colorful and spontaneous.  

What I am showing here and now are parts of a large collection that has mostly developed during the time when, for various reasons, I have not been able to be so outgoing. As I said, my painting is abstract, but with occasional visible influences. What is existential and difficult sometimes finds its way into what I do and that’s how it must be. Otherwise, in my opinion, painting often becomes tame and without substance.” 

In connection with the opening of the exhibition, the flute quartet 40f performs two works that frame the event.



Kaija Saariaho – Laconisme de l’aile [1982] – version for four flutes

Lotta Wennäkoski – Glimt, skymt [2018]