Pelle Swedlund (1865-1947) studied at the Royal Academy from 1889-1892 and thereafter travelled to Paris, Bretagne where he stayed for the next three years. Swedlund belongs to a generation of artists often referred to as The forgotten artists’ generation. They were active between the period of Konstnärsgruppen, a group of opponent Swedish artist breaking free from the Academic way of teaching art, and the breakthrough of Modernism. Like many of his contemporary artist friends he developed his stylistic ideals from the international Symbolism and Synthesism.
In the Belgian town of Bruges (Brügge) Swedlund found the perfect artistic environment. After Georges Rodenbach’s fiction Bruges-la-Morte (1892) the town had gained popularity among symbolist writers and painters. The landscape was used to convey a mood. In Bruges Swedlund developed his own distinct style of evocative paintings in rich yellow and brown colours. The Swedish intellectual climate at the time was well prepared for the Romanticism of Bruges through the Swedish artist Olof Sager-Nelson’s paintings from 1894-1895 and Oscar Levertin’s poem in prose Brügge. When Swedlund exhibited his Bruges landscapes in Sweden in 1899 they were received with great acclaim. The National Museum, Stockholm, purchased the painting Summer Evening executed in 1898 and The Gothenburg Museum acquired The Desolate House, (Bruges) from 1898.
From the turn of the 20th Century until 1912 Swedlund lived in Italy. Places such as Chioggia, Montefiascone, Rome and its Campagna inspired to many evocative paintings. After returning to Sweden in 1912 it was in the Swedish landscapes around Fiskebäckskil, Gotland, Gävle and Jämtland where he found his favourite motifs. He was also inspired by historical sites, such as Gripsholm Castle, Mariefred and The Nicolai Ruin, Gotland.
From 1932-1946 Swedlund worked as senior curator at the Thielska Gallery in Stockholm. His artistic output diminished in his later life, partly due to poor health and partly due to his position at the Gallery. He exhibited extensively throughout his life with success and after his death in 1947 the Thielska Gallery organised a retrospective exhibition of his oeuvre. Much of Swedlund’s work is characterised by mysterious brooding landscapes. By painting nature at twilight he was able to convey an atmosphere of a supernatural experience, by using colour and line he expressed the idea of this mystical border between the dying day and night, like the border between dream and alive. His admiration for the work of Paul Gauguin is obvious.
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