• Art of Inspiration

    • The artistic creation in this beautiful region has managed to set itself apart by being a fresh and novel breeze.

    A brief journey into contemporary Icelandic art / 

    The contemporary art of Iceland is permeated by the rich landscapist tradition of the eighteenth century, most of the great artists of the time executed pieces that were fully aware of the Romantic Movement that was happening simultaneously in Germany and France. During the nineteenth century the Icelanders, much like the rest of the world, became interested in impressionist and abstract painting, rendering it with a particular style, defined by the colour palette of the their captivating natural environment.

    Þórarinn Þorláksson (1867-1924) and Ásgrímur Jónsson (1876-1958) are two of the greatest painters of our times; they individually represent an important part of the Zeitgeist of contemporary Icelandic art, since they were the first artists to widely exhibit and accomplish, in Jónsson’s case, a professional life completely based on art. During the Fifties, the art of this country began to be widely recognised around the world, adopting certain universal values from the period but always remaining unique in the eyes of the beholder.

    While Icelandic art has been guided by the creative compass of Europe, its appreciation and execution of the visual arts remains identified with its own customs and traditions. The island’s images and sounds are able to bring the spectator’s imagination into a new and charming world, unique and intriguing in which they eagerly participate. As evidence of the latter, the work of the Neogothic artist Gabríela Friðriksdóttir (1971) projects a dark and gloomy look, somewhat related to primitivism, connected to rituals and magical power objects; her macabre figurations are shown in “Where is the Line” video by her fellow Icelander, Björk.

    Eggert Petursson (1956) possesses a singular manner of portraying his country’s nature, he is an artist who brandishes his obsession for style and the fractal composition of his works makes them an incomparable treasure. The hyperrealist portraits of flowers are breathtakingly charming for whoever is fortunate enough to set eyes on them. On the other hand we find the work of Jón Óskar (1954), an artist who we should undoubtedly confront and try to understand, since his interest in the gestural and painterly exploration makes its way into art galleries, making him an interesting creator that, in some way, manages to portray the movement of the world in our days.

    Erró (1932) is a singular and risky creator that enjoys creating pieces founded in the Vacui Horror, following the pop aesthetic of modern life. He has been accused of plagiarism a couple of times since he uses comic artists to construct his work.

    In an appeaseable pictorial strain, the work by the painter Louisa Matthíasdóttir (1917-2000), is a gem that uses fine art to compose her everyday life, finding a geometrical foundation that is fortunate because of its selective and sensitive employment of colour and the delicate brush strokes she uses to build the world around her.

    In order to fully understand the artistic interests of Iceland, we would have to dig deeper in the rich traditions that constitute the cultural intertwining of this region. The artistic landscapes where its art is located in relation to the liaisons with universal imagery, which the courageous artists have access to and where from where some are able to extract the deepest revelations that revolutionise the world.

    Tagged: Iceland, art, contemporary art, Icelandic art