Innovative, provocative when
Per B. Sundberg shows glass

Exhibition of glass by Per B. Sundberg in the Orrefors Gallery,
Birger Jarlsgatan 15, Stockholm, Sweden, 25th September – 12th October, 2003

After almost ten years at Orrefors, Per B. Sundberg has found a platform for his creative ambition. With his distinctive glass, he is an outspoken challenger of the standard concept of “Swedish design”. Although he has designed a range of exciting wares for Orrefors’ ordinary collection, he has above all established himself as the rejuvenator par excellence of art glass, taking the venerable graal first to the much acclaimed Fabula and now, with its première showing in Stockholm in September, to an entirely new art glass technique he has named Litograal.

The Fabula and Litograal pieces on show are compact vases featuring a variety of encapsulated pictorial motifs. In Fabula, the image strips are fired directly onto the parison and are covered by a thick glass overlay. Under frosted and clear surfaces appear motifs that may sometimes be ingratiatingly decent, such as birds, flowers and fish. Other pieces, however, are more provocative. The colours range from dark, blotchy and very down-to-earth to hues of the softest pastel. In Litograal, a pattern is sandblasted directly onto a thin layer of porcelain enamel that gives the glass the impression of having been printed – and, indeed, the purpose is to create images that are sharply outlined and texts that can actually be read. Here, the images deal with sex, violence and drink in the comic-strip format of a series of panels arrayed along the sides of the sculpture.

Also on show is a selection of massive “slumped” dishes whose brilliant colours have been allowed to fuse and intermingle during the slumping process. The décor was sawn out by Per B. Sundberg himself. Several of these dishes are decidedly non-glassy and remind one rather of old-fashioned cardboard boxes with a shepherd’s plaid pattern. The exhibition, which is staged by Tom Hedqvist, will also be showing spectacular, fashion-inspired table lamps of cut Orrefors crystal with textile cords and patterns that are nothing if not striking.

“Per’s multiple approach to glass and ceramics makes him intriguingly disrespectful of what can and cannot be done. Multiplicity is his watchword. He can at the same time be introvert and narrative, tactile yet polished, anti-aesthetic and seductive – preferably all at once,” says Tom Hedqvist, himself a designer and the director of Beckmans Skola. “In my opinion, Per is the designer who, of his generation, has made the most interesting contribution to the development of contemporary art glass.”

In this show, the supreme skills of Orrefors’ glassblowers combine with Per B. Sundberg’s unyielding determination and creativity to infuse the pieces with life and vigour and bolster Orrefors’ traditional position as a world leader in the field of art glass, not least through the development of the Fabula technique.

Per B. Sundberg began his artistic career as a ceramics student at Capellagården between 1983 and 1985. He then enrolled in the glass and ceramics programme of the College of Arts, Crafts and Design (1985-90), where he distinguished himself in a variety of imaginative projects. A coincidence led him to the Gustavsberg porcelain factory and the discovery of old picture strips destined for the rubbish heap. Initially, he used these to decorate sinks and bathtubs, later to adorn lamp stands and ceramic radio sets. Since 1994 he has been a member of the Orrefors design team.