The painter Per Adde was born on April 17, 1926, in Filipstad, Sweden. He began his art studies in Gothenburg in 1946 and completed them at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm from 1955 to 1960. In 1961, he moved to Graddis in Northern Norway.
Per had an early strong longing for the north and managed to buy a canoe in 1947 to start paddling along the sea and rivers. Eventually, he reached the mountainous region north of Arjeplog, where he encountered the Sami culture. He became familiar with the Sami community, made many friends, and learned to survive in the mountains. As a youth among the Sami, he witnessed the attitudes and abuses by the mainstream society up close, becoming deeply involved in the struggle for Sami rights. Per’s dedication to nature and conservation, especially within reindeer husbandry, has left profound and significant traces.
During the Alta protests, Per played a central role. Shortly after, he engaged in the fight against the development of Saltfjellet-Svartisen. There, he represented the Sami people to authorities in municipalities, counties, the Parliament, and the Government—a battle that led to the establishment of Saltfjellet Svartisen National Park. As an extension of this, the Nordland National Park Center was established in Storjord in Saltdal.
In 2013, Nordland County established the Adde Zetterquist Art Gallery to preserve and convey the artistic legacy of Per and Kajsa Zetterquist for the future. The gallery is co-located with the Nordland National Park Center.
Per Adde also worked in art politics, particularly within the professional organizations of visual artists, and in 2006, he received the King’s Medal of Merit in gold with the citation: “He receives this distinction for significant, versatile, and lifelong dedication to the dissemination of visual arts, establishment of artist centers, work in environmental and nature conservation, and the fight for Sami rights!”
Per Adde’s visual language is expressionistic, driven by strong painterly energy, dynamic, and with a free and personal use of color. He says:
“I would prefer people to encounter my paintings directly – that words should not be necessary. But I once formulated something that is both true and essential:
The infinite variety in nature’s forms and colors,
the richness of life and movement, gives me important impulses.
It becomes a kind of catalyst in my work, where I try
to formulate my experiences and my sense of life in pictures –
using pictorial means.”
Per’s artistic journey, from his debut in 1958, has included numerous exhibitions throughout the Nordic region, reflecting his deep knowledge and closeness to Sami culture and landscapes. His artistic expression is evidence of collaboration and solidarity with the Sami people, as well as his creative life and journey in Sápmi.
The Per Adde Retrospective Exhibition invites the professional art community, art enthusiasts, and the general public to delve into the rich experience of Per Adde’s life and work.