LIP-STICKS is an engaging exhibition of paintings by leading Icelandic artist who dazzle the viewer with colorful narratives and blunt attitudes. The artists are Gabríela Friðriksdóttir, Guðmundur Thoroddsen, Helgi Þórsson, Hulda Vilhjálmsdóttir, Ragnar Þórisson, Þorvaldur Jónsson and Þórdís Aðalsteinsdóttir. The exhibition is curated by Birta Fróðadóttir.
From the curator:
Lip-sticks – make-up that decorates, beautifies, conceals or disguises, distorts, exaggerates or invents. Intertwines reality with invention, in innumerable shades, tones and textures.
The exhibition Lip-sticks is characterised by abundant colour and narrative brio. The show comprises new works by seven artists, all born after 1970. In their works, complex worlds interact, springing from the minds of different individuals, where objects and beings run wild. Creativity is unlimited, and we experience diverse visual worlds as each artist invites us to share in his/her own reality. Some of the pieces display a childlike joy in a world of limitless fantasy, while others draw the observer into a mystical world of wonders. Underlying irony and humour may be seen in the works, along with loneliness, gloom and horror. Pastiches of the everyday, cunning supernatural creatures, spiritual torment, New Age philosophy and childhood are among the themes which imbue the exhibition with enthusiasm and sincerity.
The participating artists are Gabríela Friðriksdóttir (b.1971), Guðmundur Thoroddsen (b. 1980), Helgi Þórsson (b. 1975), Hulda Vilhjálmsdóttir (b.1971), Ragnar Þórisson (b. 1977), Þorvaldur Jónsson (b. 1984) and Þórdís Aðalsteinsdóttir (b. 1975).
Curator is Birta Fróðadóttir.
In the exhibition the paintings flow together, interacting in either harmony or confrontation. The exhibition flows into the gallery space, where each wall has been applied with make-up that connects the work via the intangible threads of feelings, improvisation, play and colour and links each painting to the space itself. The mind of the observer takes flight into the free range of imagination – into infinity.
The idea of the show arose from the works of these very different artists, and the desire to explore how one may read from them the Zeitgeist of the present day. The artists were selected on the basis of their forms of expression and their techniques. Figurative motifs are interpreted in the sincere, free manner which characterises this first generation of 21st-century painters. All the artists in this exhibition apply a more-or-less traditional approach to the painting – paint on a rectangular surface – and their use of colour may be carefully-considered or random. Bright, pure colours are noticeable in the show, underlining fearlessness and candid self-expression. The works of Hulda Vilhjálmsdóttir and Ragnar Þórisson have an undertone of internal torment, psychological complexes and overwhelming solitude. Bestial fantastical creatures from the weird world of the subconscious interact in the works of Gabríela Friðriksdóttir and Þórdís Aðalsteinsdóttir, reminiscent of vivid dreams. And in the works of Helgi Þórsson, Þorvaldur Jónsson and Guðmundur Thoroddsen allusions are clearly seen to the wild humour, playfulness and high spirits of childhood.
The works in the exhibition share the quality of being laden with colours and forms which reflect the Zeitgeist of the 21st century – where every instant is loaded with an overabundance of information. The exhibition flows through the space, juxtaposing the works of different artists, so that the individual and the group become one. Personal creativity is subsumed into the overall flow of the exhibition, underlining the freedom of expression and uncontrolled flood of information in the present day. The observer is also granted absolute freedom: he/she sees with his/her own eyes, and interprets with his/her own heart. The unbridled expression and colourfulness of Lip-sticks is refreshing as the dark nights draw in – and the works of art as a whole cannot but attract.
Birta Fróðadóttir is a qualified architect, and has worked in many fields. She earned her master’s degree in architecture from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and worked there as an architect and landscape architect for four years. She then moved on to Berlin where she worked freelance for artists, and was curator of the home-gallery 13m on Turmstrasse, Moabit. She has designed and set up exhibitions, made documentaries and designed stage sets. Lip-sticks is her first exhibition as a curator in Iceland.
Gabríela Friðriksdóttir (b. 1971) graduated in 1997 from the sculpture department of the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (forerunner of the Iceland Academy of the Arts). She made a powerful start to her career just before the turn of the new millennium, and she may be said to have been a major influence on the generation of sincere artists who were then taking their first steps in Iceland. Gabríela works in many fields of art at the same time, and happily moves between media – paintings often forming part of larger works/installations. The works shown here are, however, individual pieces in their own right. This creative freedom is precisely one of the characteristics of this generation of artists who participate in this show. Gabríela’s works are original and challenging, and within them lie mysteries and a fascinating visual world. She is known for complex and multifaceted work, and has shown her art all over the world, alone and with other artists.
Guðmundur Thoroddsen (b. 1980) studied art at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and the School of Visual Arts in New York, graduating in 2011. His paintings are made either on canvas or on paper, and he combines collage, watercolour, drawing and painting. In his works sports and play are combined with primitive human behaviour and ancient figures in an offbeat and humorous manner. He has also worked with installations in which figurative sculptures interact with paintings. In the past few years Guðmundur has held many one-man shows in Iceland and abroad, and also taken part in group shows.
Helgi Þórsson (b. 1975) graduated from studies in art and sonology in the Netherlands in 2004. He works with found materials and acquired paints in his works, which have attracted attention for their colourfulness and childlike ambiance. Unbridled creativity and high spirits reign in the works, and influences from folk art may be discerned. International objects, patterns, animals and mystical symbols tend to find their way onto the picture plane, in strong colours and simple drawing. In his all-singing, all-dancing installations Helgi brings together painting, sculpture and music. Helgi is one of the group operating the Kunstschlager gallery in Reykjavík. He has held many shows there and elsewhere, and has participated in exhibitions abroad.
Hulda Vilhjálmsdóttir (b. 1971) graduated from the fine arts department of the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2000, since when she has pursued painting with diligence. The human being and his/her urges and feelings are the principal themes of Hulda’s work, painted in a manner filled with emotions and expression. Her works are energetic, fast and sincere, springing from a strong expressive urge. Hulda applies various methods in her painting, and also engages in writing and performance art. She has participated in many solo and group shows in Iceland and Denmark.
Ragnar Þórisson (b. 1977) has devoted himself entirely to painting in his art. He graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2010, since then he has been steadily developing his methods and themes. Ragnar’s approach to painting is quite traditional, painting with oils on large surfaces. His works depict distorted human figures in a mystical environment, painted in muted, hazy colours. He has held three one-man shows in Reykjavík in recent years, and taken part in group shows. Last year he was awarded a grant from the Svavar Guðnason and Ásta Eiríksdóttir Fund.
Þorvaldur Jónsson (b. 1984) studied art at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, graduating in 2009. He works on sheets of wood, drawing and painting innumerable small details on the picture plane in bright colours. His works possess a certain youthful impulsive and present utopian fantasy worlds which jumble together cartoon characters, animals and objects in a meticulous manner. Þorvaldur has held six one-man shows and taken part in many group shows both in Iceland and abroad.
Þórdís Aðalsteinsdóttir (b. 1975) lives and works in New York, where she graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2003. Þórdís has focussed mainly on painting, and held many exhibitions abroad and in Iceland, including a solo show at Kjarvalsstaðir in Reykjavík in 2006. Þórdís’s works are characterised by two-dimensional drawings of objects and animals on plain or patterned backgrounds. Human figures and animals are seen in bizarre proportions, and the works possess an underlying irony and mystique.