A short life with a lot of art
Another painter who also received assistance from Adelsteen Normann was Gunnar Berg (1863–93) from Svolvær. He died far too young, but still managed to paint a number of beautiful paintings from Lofoten.
Unjustly, he was accused of following hard on the heels of Otto Sinding, but that is only ostensibly. If we study his paintings more closely, paintings like ‘From Svolvær harbour’ (c. 1887), ‘From Svolvær’ (undated), ‘Funeral in Reine’ (undated) and not least his masterpiece ‘From Reine’ (probably 1889), it becomes clear that firstly, he did not employ a panoramic perspective like Sinding’s, but rather a Düsseldorfer theatrical perspective, and secondly that he was far more interested in the artistic aspects than his predecessor was. This is especially plain to see in his painting ‘From Reine’, where his treatment of the reflection of the boat on the sea surface reveals his colouristic potential.
His almost monochrome ‘Funeral in Reine’ tells the same story, where he operates primarily with shades of grey, that once again reveal his colouristic abilities. If we compare this to Otto Sinding’s ‘Funeral in Lofoten’ the differences are striking, both when it comes to perspective, the way the motif is dealt with and, not least, the style of painting
Gunnar Berg’s main work, although perhaps not his best painting, is ‘The Battle of the Trollfjord’ from 1890, originally painted for the Svolvær Municipal Council’s assembly room, but now on display at the Gunnar Berg Gallery in Svolvær. In this work he painted seven episodes from the historic battle that took place in the Trollfjord, between fishermen and fish merchants. It is a combination of an historic work and a landscape, built up in a way resembling an altar piece – with a large painting in the centre and three smaller ones on either side, all within a frame which he designed himself.
Gunnar Berg died of cancer in Berlin at the tender age of 30, but was buried in Svolvær. He was truly one of those who died young, but achieved a great deal in the short time he had at his disposal.
Painters of Lofoten
The gallery contains an ample collection of paintings by widely acknowledged artists like Otto Sinding, Gunnar Berg, Even Ulving, Adelsteen Normann, Einar Berger, Ole Juul, Thorolf Holmboe and several others.