OLSSON HAGALUND, Olle
Olle Olsson Hagalund's naive dreamlike imagery lost some of its popularity during the 60' and 70'. Progressive artistic trends which often involved some political statement lead the art community in Sweden during these two decades. Today however we have rediscovered how timeless the artist was in expressing a blend of dramatic humour with quiet melancholy in a simple lifestyle. Perhaps this technocratic society we live in needs now more than ever his sensitive and loving relationship to relics from the past and his talent for narrative art. As an artist he will always invigorate us with his vibrant array of colours and the intrinsic value of his artistic talents.
Olle Olsson Hagalund was born on the 12th of July 1904, as the only child of Tuttan and Conny Olsson. He grew up in Hagalund, in a house with decorative woodwork framing the windows, eaves and porch and it was here he chose to live his entire life. As a child Olle Olsson was a loner. He often wandered by himself contemplating - observing his surroundings - and drawing. After school, Olle sought employmet at The National Railway Company, a job which didn't really suit him. He was later dismissed when the company introduced a rationalization program and with small savings in his pocket he registered at the Carl Wilhelmssons Painting School. He spent only a short time at the school. Olle Olsson felt uneasy in the company of colourfull and expressive painters. He began to doubt his competence and was not very disappointed when lack of money forced him to leave. During the following years, Olle Olssonhad long periods of unemployment. He painted in secrecy and did not show his art to anyone.
In 1943 the PUB department store organized a competition for young amature painters. Olle Olsson sent in six paintings of which all were accepted. After positive responses from a couple of group showings it was time for Olle's first one man show. The show opened 1938 at Gallery Färg och Form in Stockholm and was a big success. The press and public were overwhelmed. The critics praised his colouristic talent and ability to bring to life the shabby suburbs in Hagalund. More exhibitions followed in Scandinavia, including Copenhagen and Oslo, as well as in many Swedeish cities. The artist was also represented at the large Biennal in Venice, Italy 1942. As the years passed, Olle Olsson chose to exhibit his work less often. He started to devote his time to scenography. During the 1950's to 1960's he collaborated as a scenographer in a number of productions at many of Stockholm's theatres.
The artist's private life was spent quietly in Hagalund with his wife Maja, whom he married in 1937, and his daughter Lena who was born in 1950. In the summer of 1972 Olle Olsson died in Hagalund.
The struggle to save Olle Olsson's house
Hagalund was founded in the beginning of 1890. Workers of different trades left an expanding and overcrowded Stockholm in order to build their own homes in Hagalund and create a better future for their families. This new suburb grew quickly into a diverse and in many ways charming community with its houses, gardens and alleys. However, after the Second World War a central directive was initiated concerning how Sweden should be reorganized, in order to create more, and better modernized apartments. This plan for reorganization included Hagalund. Council politicians in Solna decided to build large apartment buildings, which corresponded to the housing needs at that time. A modern, rational town plan was drawn up and the older buildings were torn down, one after another. When the new Hagalund was completed 1974 only a few older houses remained, one of whick was Olle Olsson Hagalund's house.
The demolition of Hagalund was naturally met with resistance and one of the most committed protesters was Olle Olsson. He loved his home town, where he found his inspiration and his themes. Olle Olsson realized it was too late to save the entire community so he decided to fight to save his own home. In the newspapers and TV Olle criticized the rational and technical thinking that governed Solna's local politics. Not without reason the artist was called "Hagalund's Sitting Bull". Olle Olsson's idea was to make his home into a museum and he was villing to donate it, with paintings and everything, to Solna City, as long as his house was allowed to remain standing. The local authorities, however, were ambivalent and the future of Olle Olsson Hagalunds house was uncertain up until his death in 1972. Finally in 1976, the decision was made to preserve and maintain Olle Olsson's house and establish a gallery.
In 2005 a museum opened in the whole house, which shows his art from 1930 to 1970. It is now possible to see paintings, drawings, graphics and theatre scetches in his former home. A film with the artist is shown and there is a small café too.
1934 anordnade PUB en utställning för unga amatörmålare och Olle Olsson skickade in sex verk. Hans häpnad var stor när samtliga antogs, och dessutom fem av dem såldes för mellan hundra och hundrafemtio kronor. För Olle Olsson som inte tidigare visat sin konst för en levande själ blev det här ett första, betydelsefullt erkännande. Efter att ha deltagit i ytterligare ett par samlingsutställningar, och i samband med dem fått positiva omnämnanden i tidningarna, var han så redo för sin första separatutställning. Den ägde rum 1938 på konstsalongen Färg och Form i Stockholm.
Succen var omedelbar. Publiken var förtjust och pressen prisade i lyriska ordalag debutanten. I Aftonbladet skrev Nils Palmgren: "Att vara med om det första framträdandet av en ung konstnär med den spontana begåvningens tecken över sina verk, ger känslan att man bevittnar ett under - det är någonting av samma upplevelse som att se en människa födas." När Olle Olsson skulle "etiketteras" konsthistoriskt underströk många hans släktskap med tidiga svenska naivister som Eric Hallström och inte minst Sven Erixson (X:et). Detta till trots var det ingen som förnekade honom ett mycket personligt uttryck. De flesta kritiker var ense om att Olle Olssons storhet låg på två plan. Dels framhölls hans koloristiska begåvning och dels uppmärksammades hans förmåga att levandegöra de något slitna förstadsmiljöerna i Hagalund.
Olle Olsson Hagalund hade gjort ett storslaget genombrott och var plötsligt namnet på var mans läppar. Snart blev han känd som en tillbakadragen och kameraskygg man med stor integritet. Men samtidigt förmedlades svenska folket via tidningarna en mycket sympatisk bild av Olle. Hans ödmjukhet i framgången och hans varma kärlek till hembygden var, vid sidan av hans, i ordet bästa bemärkelse, "folkliga" konst, en viktig förklaring till den stora popularitet Olle Olsson kom att åtnjuta i folkhemmet.
Nationalmuseum i Stockholm, Moderna Muséet i Stockholm. Göteborgs Konstmuseum, Norrköping, Malmö Museum och Svenska Statens porträttsamling på Gripsholms slott.
Utmärkelser och stipendier:
1963 Solna kulturpris. St. Eriksmedaljen 1966 och en bok om honom utkom samma år.
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