When the Gothenburg District Court relocates to its new building between the two Ullevi stadiums, the formerly closed facade is exchanged for a bright landscape painted on glass by Kåre Henriksson.
A symbolic set of scales is the only clearly figurative element in the painting. It surges up on the image’s energy above the entrance, as a distinct symbol of law-enforcing functions – but can also be interpreted as a road between two valleys in a landscape.
The Scales represents the court’s weighing of legal measures. The process requires understanding, because people are forever asking questions such as, “Is there any justice in the world?” or “Is there any justice in this city?”
The light in the painting, in the foundation and the background, is what the latitude offers for the day. In a panorama of land and water we can make out willow herb, brooks and autumn leaves, and in scattered calligraphic elements we can trace the dappled black of birches and the contours of stones and rivulets.
The landscape is portrayed both as a whole and in details. A mobile perspective unleashes the colours from their places and gives the impression that we are in the midst of motion. Energy is required, for a day’s march can be long and many choices of path are hard, even though man is said to be born free. Here he would seem to be as free as can be.
The painting is in ceramic paint on glass tempered in a furnace at a float glass factory. Compromises were necessary with regard to glass dimensions, and the client’s requirements on transparency with regard to protecting the entrance from external threats have influenced the choice and brightness of the colours.
The Scales can be seen in light and darkness and from both sides, and the surroundings blend in as interesting reflections. From inside, the totality is hard to grasp, but in return the parts of the painting grow into autonomous images.
In the dark, The Scales makes a strong impression, offset by the illuminated entrance, and it is expected to become an appreciated nocturnal counterweight to the cityscape with its heavy traffic. It is perhaps inappropriate to speak of street art outside a court of law, but the potential of art includes being able to contribute to a collective understanding of the various landscapes that we carry within ourselves.