Passio: A Painter's Psalm of Colours

This film is about the painter Sveinn Björnsson (1925-1997), and his struggles to perfect his art. Following a wide-ranging exhibition at the Kjarvalsstaðir Art Gallery in 1989, he has become tired of the fantasy style which he had been developing for thirty years. What needed to happen in order for him to create something new? What sacrifices would it involve? This film is about that struggle experienced by creative artists. The film is not a biography, or a learned review of the painter's style, but it does show a side of the man which very few see. One evening, he feels he is not alone in his studio; it feels as if some being is there who wants to help him.

In the second part of this film, the artist throws himself into his work, now painting in a new style. As he approached his 70th birthday, he intends to exhibit these new pictures in Denmark, where he has achieved recognition throughout his life. Unfortunately, the exhibition is not well received. The artist, who for a while wanted to paint pictures inspired by the Passion Psalms by the 17th Century priest Hallgrímur Pétursson, now embarks on his own Passion, illustrating his Psalms in a new style. Then, in a dream, he is drawn towards the small neglected church near his studio and believes it has more need of his energies than literature.


About the film

  • Type
  • National Premiere Date
    November 15, 2001, Háskólabíó
  • Length
    113 min.
  • Language
  • Original Title
    Málarinn og sálmurinn hans um litinn
  • International Title
    Passio: A Painter's Psalm of Colours
  • Production Year
  • Production Countries
  • IMDB
  • Icelandic Film Centre Grant



  • 2001
    Edduverðlaunin / The Edda Awards - Award: Nominated for Cinematography of the Year (Sigurdur Sverir Pálsson).


  • Kvikmyndaverstöðin ehf., 2001 - VHS