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Ola Billgren (1940-2001) Sweden

Ola Billgren was born in Denmark to the artist couple Hans and Grete Billgren, but was active in Sweden. He was a multifaceted artist and theorist whose style underwent multiple evolutions; he was also a diligent writer for both the daily press and periodicals. Billgren belonged to the group of artists that debuted in the 1960s and was influenced by the experimental spirit of the time, which took the form of constantly reexamining their artistic points of departure relative to society and the prevailing trends. Other artists who belonged to this period include Jan Håfström and Lena Cronqvist. Neo-Realism had a heavy influence on Billgren in the late 1960s, and by bringing abstract elements into his photorealistic paintings, he raised questions about the relationship between art and reality. In the 1970s, several of his works presented a dialogue between various means of expression, in which the imagery of mass media took on major significance for the potential of the image, while simultaneously portraying the present, yet elusive reality. In the 1980s, Billgren abandoned photorealistic painting in favor of romantic landscapes, and the study of contrasts between light and dark plays a central role. The impressionistic style of the images recalls the melancholy, atmospheric paintings of the turn of the last century, while the layered colors and light once again tend to the complexity of sight and the variation between abstraction and concretion. Billgren’s big-city panorama from the same period also includes these romantic elements, as does his suite of red paintings, which was presented in the 1990s. In recent decades, Billgren has had an enormous influence on the art world, and his work can be found at the Musée National d'art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and elsewhere.

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