The Artwork of Karl Bertil Gadö
Born in Malmö in July of 1916 to railway official Karl Emil Gadö and Hedvig Maria Persson, Karl Bertil Gadö was a Swedish painter and graphic artist. In addition to his self-study, he received formal training between 1933 and 1935 at the Skåne Painting School (Skånska Målarskolan) in Malmö. Gadö’s work and that of his contemporaries was inspired by political ideologies of the 1930s and ideas posed by the prominent Surrealist movement; the combination of these two forces created a new form of art, magic realism.
Gadö first exhibited his work in 1939 at a collective exhibition in Malmö. In 1943, he had his first solo exhibition in Malmö and later exhibited in 1947 at a group exhibition in Malmö’s City Hall. Works by Gadö were included in the 1948 “God Konst i Alla Hem (Good Art in the Home)” exhibition held at the HSB-Huset in Fleminggatan, Stockholm. Along with landscape painter Lars Engström, he regularly participated in Skåne’s art exhibitions.
From 1948 to 1952, Karl Bertil Gadö was a member of the Imaginisterna, an avant-garde surrealist artist group founded in 1948 by painter and designer Max Walter Svanberg. This group of artists, who were looking for an alternative approach to surrealism, left the detailed style of Salvador Dali in favor of the artistic works of artists like Max Ernst and Paul Klee. Members of the Imaginisterna included such Swedish artists as painter Max Walter Svanberg, painter and lithographer Carl-Otto Hultén, painter Anders Österlin, and book illustrator and cartoonist Gösta Kriland.
Gadö was also a member of the Skånsk Avantgardekonst, or the Skånes Avant-Garde Art: he participated in their 1949 exhibition at the Malmö Museum and the 1951 exhibitions held in Hälsingborg and Stockholm. Gadö presented his work in the 1951 Biennial held at the Museum of Modern Art in San Paulo, Brazil. He was also represented in the same year at an exhibition of Skåne artists held in the Liljevalch Art Hall in Stockholm.
In the 1960s, Karl Bertil Gadö presented intense experiences of nature in his work. Various animal species were presented as symbols of life’s struggle in scenes foreboding disasters and devastation; he also emphasized in his work the ideals of independence and man’s willingness to find his own way in life. Around 1980, a culmination of Gadö’s work was a series of images whose content revolved around cosmic motifs. Most of these paintings were executed with clear contour lines; between these lines, the spaces were covered in a limited scale of brown and gray tones.
Gadö worked for decades with public works in relief, free sculpture, mosaics and stained glass. These works contained content similar to his paintings with the earlier ones containing strong abstract compositions. Karl Bertil Gadö died in 2014, at the age of eighty-eight. His work is held in both private and public collections. Major collections include the Malmö Museum and the Moderna Museet of the National Museum in Stockholm.
Note: An extensive study entitled “Surrealism, Occultism and Politics: In Search of the Marvelous”, which dwells on the motifs, thoughts and techniques of Surrealism’s various artists and writers, is a well researched article that explores the relationship between Occultism and Surrealism. The article can be found at: http://s3.amazonaws.com/arena-attachments/1418044/4266cce09074ad02812bbef9fd73cc1b.pdf?1510498215
Second Insert Image: Karl Bertil Gadö, “Uppe i Projektet”, 1990, Oil on Canvas, 130 x 100 cm, Private Collection
Bottom Insert Image: Karl Bertil Gadö, “The Miracle”, Date Unknown, Colored Woodcut, Edition of 25, 36 x 35 cm, Private Collection