At sixteen years of age Gullvåg attended the Art School of Trondheim (renamed Trondheim Art Academy in 1977). Due to his young age, the first year he was limited to night school, led by John Anton Risan. From 1977 he studied full time with Georg Suttner. The Swedish painter and art-pedagogue Suttner exercised great influence over Gullvåg’s artistic development during this period. Through him Gullvåg learned a great deal about Swedish art, among other things, he completed several intervals of study in Stockholm. In addition Gullvåg sought to expand his horizons beyond the borders of Scandinavia, taking, among others, two longer study-intervals in London (1983-84) and Paris (1986-87).
The works from Gullvåg’s youth bear witness to an early maturity, both formally and with regard to content. The main focus is on painting. He experiments boldly in different directions, both within figuration and abstraction in the direction of non-figurative painting. Yet already by now the exploration rests on a solid, classical foundation, where the concern for composition and order are marked. This basic attitude remains constant throughout his entire artistic production.