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Vest Agder Electric Power Company, Kristiansand

The decoration entitled Power was commissioned by Vest Agder Electric Power Company (now part of Agder Energy Group) in Kristiansand, and adorns the canteen of the administration building, 5th floor. The work consists of three parts, painted on wooden panels.

Gullvåg created Power in his Trondheim studio. In fact, the central picture was so large, he had to cut a hole in his studio wall of to get it out. A similar problem arose when the work was mounted in the company’s building in Kristiansand – here he received help from the fire department to lift the painting up to the 5th floor.

Although his paintings previously had been incorporated into room decorations, Power was Gullvåg’s first commission created for a specific room. The motif of the three-part painting revolves around the sheep, which functions as an allegory over the theme of the production of electricity.

The main picture shows a sheep running directly toward the viewer; it creates a strong dynamism in the picture. Power lines grow, somehow, from the animal’s back, such that it also surrealistically renders a barren landscape.

The sheep is painted as if it were something between a butchered carcass and migratory animal. As it pulls a wagon, it simultaneously is under threat of being crushed by the wagon. In this way the painting tells about the helpful aspects of producing clean energy, yet simultaneously it points to the dangers posed to nature. The highly original use of the sheep functions surprisingly well – and effectively illustrates the balance an electric company should strive for, between the production of electricity and the exploitation of nature.

The two smaller pictures are placed at a distance from the main picture. These are cut out in organic forms that reflect the architect’s use of arches in the doors and windows. Already here we see a characteristic tendency found in all Gullvåg’s later decorative commissions; he captures elements from the room, often from the entire building, and makes both direct and indirect references to them in his paintings. This sort of echo establishes an elegant dialectic with the room, something that in the next instance redoubles the feeling that the decorations belong in the room.