arl Axel Pehrson is a painter, graphic artist and a sculptor. When he
paints he depicts the light and the summer. He paints landscapes of his
own invention, plants and animals (preferably insects and first and foremost
beetles). He is a master of imagination and enjoys life.
He began with abstract painting which was filled with motion and consisted
of different colour fields cutting into each other. Since the beginning
of the 1960's he has been influenced by the forms and colours of plants
Karl Axel Pehrson was born in 1921. His mother brought up Karl Axel
and his seven siblings alone after the death of his father in a road
accident in 1922 when Karl Axel, being the youngest child, was just
ten months old. It was a close-knit family. In the evenings the children
gathered in the big house in Örebro to read aloud and play music.
In the winters he went to school in Karolinska Läroverket (an
old traditional grammar school in Örebro). Drawing soon became
his favourite subject. He was also lucky enough to have an unusually
inspiring teacher, Sven Hemmel, who tried new ways of teaching and used
reproductions of paintings by for example Matisse, Picasso, Braque,
Miro to make the students interested in modern art.
After his first year at Karolinska Läroverket Karl Axel interrupted
his studies. His mother had then accepted his plans of becoming an artist.
But first he was supposed to make an educational journey together with
his eldest brother Karl Erik to Austria. This was in 1936.
In the autumn of 1937 he rented a room in Stockholm and began his studies
at the Edward Berggren school of art. Already in the spring of 1938
he left this school to study at Otte Sköld's instead. There he
met his wife to be, the young painter Birgit Nilsson.
In 1940 he was admitted to the Academy of Art in Stockholm. He studied
there until 1946 with an interruption from 1942 to 1944 when he did
his military service. He did not like the army and in order not to be
bored to death he began a strange pastime activity. When he was on leave
he walked around to all the haberdasher's in Stockholm buying buttons
which he carefully classified according to colour, size, material and
the number of holes in them.
He also painted, but he destroyed most of it. His brother Karl Gustaf
could insulate his whole garage using the panels that Karl Axel had
discarded. During the last years at the Academy of Art he studied for
Sven Erixon. The atmosphere around Sven Erixon was stimulating because
of the enthusiasm that he conveyed to his students. He wanted them to
follow their impulses, no matter where they took them. A lot of knowledge
was also spread by a student whose name was Lennart Rodhe. He had studied
for several years at the Rostrup Boyesen school of art in Copenhagen
and there he had become thoroughly acquainted with the classical tradition
of painting. His ideas appealed to Karl Axel's systematic mind.
Karl Axel has always worked very methodically. In the same way that
he had collected buttons he now began even more eagerly to collect beetles
and forms. As soon has he had found a new form, perhaps while he was
doodling while talking on the telephone, he saved it in his "Book
of Forms". The forms that appear in his paintings at this time
have in other words not cropped up while he was painting.
In the spring of 1947 the legendary exhibition Young Art took place.
A new generation had established itself. There were among others Lennart
Rodhe, Pierre Olofsson, Olle Bonniér and Karl Axel Pehrson.
In April 1954 Karl Axel Pehrson had his first separate exhibition at
Galerie Blanche. At this exhibition there were not only water-colour
paintings and oil-paintings but also a number of sculptures. They were,
unlike the paintings, revolting and obscene. There were tumours, shrivelled
body parts, warts etc. Karl Axel Pehrson continued sculpturing for many
years. But eventually he became less provocative than he had been at
the exhibition at Galerie Blanche.
Music has always accompanied Karl Axel through his life. He played
the piano in a local jazz band already during his military service.
Below you can see him playing to us during one of our visits. In the
picture is also Erling Hörnsten, the chairman of our art committee.
The paragraphs above are free translations of texts taken from Ulf Linde's
book about Karl Axel Pehrson.
More information about Karl Axel Pehrson:
The Karl Axel Pehrson Foundation