The “Inferno Painting”, as August called it, hung above his desk on Karlavägen and was one of his favourite paintings. Here, in “The Room of Imagination”, it stands on an easel, just as if August was still painting it today and has momentarily left the room. The motif with the large empty space in the middle, the opening of a cave towards a lighter sky, or a heavy downpour seen through the open window of the greenery is repeated with small variations in several of his paintings.
“Time and place do not exist; on a significant bases of reality, the imag- ination spins, weaving new patterns; a mixture of memories, experiences, free fancies, incongruities and improvisations.” Thus writes August in the foreword of his Dream Play, which lies spread out on the chairs for those who would like to read it themselves and create their own images, without the guiding voices of the actors. His words can also be read as a way in to many of his paintings. For the viewer it is about relinquishing the usual ways of seeing and, in an unbiased manner, allowing the free fantasies of the imagination to playfully create new and unexpected scenes.
Yet August always wanted complete control of how his plays should be performed. In the 28 (!) page long preface to Miss Julie, he provides de- tailed instructions for how the stage doors should be constructed in order to avoid “slamming the door so that it shakes the whole house”, which he regarded as a theatrical cliché. In the hastily but still very detailed sketch of a scene for Maria Stuart, a draft of a play that was never performed, we see how carefully the author has positioned the embroidery frame, the spinet and the pire-dieu, as if he thought: We have had quite enough of the free power of the imagination.