The Portal, Illuminated – Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson at Berg Contemporary 

The Portal, Illuminated – Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson at Berg Contemporary 

The Portal, Illuminated – Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson at Berg Contemporary 

 In a comic-book reminiscent and delightfully playful fashion, Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson unveils an intertwining of nature, human, and cosmic energy  in The Thirteenth Month at Berg Contemporary. Styrmir connects the human to our supernatural and earthly elements, performatively questioning prescribed social behaviors. His graphic are grounded in knowledge, placing our existence into the context of the cosmos, alternate realities, and portals to other dimensions. His large scale drawings invoke an endless circling of galaxies and dimensions, that correlates to the endless circling of life and culture. Styrmir illuminated some mysteries behind his work, as he spoke to me about the contexts of his recently opened solo-exhibition at Berg Contemporary.

“After building a maquette of the gallery I shrunk myself and travelled into it. I became very small in this big space. So small that I forgot about everything I had done in the past. I went through many ideas for shows. Then I recalled different artworks I had made in the past five years. Images and objects I had been using alongside my performances. I made scale-models of my works and curated several doll house exhibitions inside the maquette. I opened myself up and spoke with other artists about my ideas. Artists such as Gulla and Sæmi and Hrafnhildur and Halli. I looked deep into their eyes while extracting their reflections to ferment a concept for my show. I got to choose a date for the opening. Friday the 13th in September was my choice. Then, sometime in Spring I was hanging out in the gallery searching for inspiration. A friend of the gallery, Halldór Björn, started chatting with me and I proudly invited him to my upcoming exhibition in September – on Friday the thirteenth. He looked spooked and replied: “Oh the Thirteenth Month?” In that instance I ran upstairs and reported to Ingibjörg, the gallerist, “I have a title for the show!””

Three larger scale tunnel drawings take up the main gallery; drawn in detail by hand in pen. A mesmerizing tunnel leading us to an abyss of white, we are drawn inside, pulled into the center, tethered still in the gallery space. Crawling creatures, a sky sparkling with red and green and yellow electricity. A planet with a halo of multicolored human shoes, dates and whisper of lines of movement. Geometric forms surround and tumble out from the tunnels, leading to a mysterious other dimension. There is something ominous about them, and also inspiring, in the intricacies of detail. Styrmir’s landscapes are tethered in reality, and yet open up a portal, but to where? Another galaxy, A parallel alternate reality, perhaps? Styrmir explains to me this fascination with the portal:

“I am a hip hop artist. I used to b-boy. I’ve made a rap album in collaboration with a posse of gorgeous artists. My drawings are marinated by the tons of graffiti I used to do. I still draw with the same tools that I used for graffiti. For many years the vandal in me has been sleeping. Today I am more into the world of comics and storytelling with images. I love patching old thoughts with new and mixing mediums into an artistic omelette. In the Thirteenth Month I have drawings that I first made five years ago in black and white. These are portals that I originally drew via my first impressions of Warsaw, where I used to live. For the show I decided to give the portals a facelift by applying a new dimension of colour. And so I recycled them. The freedom of recycling is true to the hip hop nature.”

These five smaller black and white drawings are placed together, containing motifs based in the human. These graphic drawings are just one element of Styrmir’s multidisciplinary practice, as he describes to me:  

“Different disciplines are like different days of weather. I find it ideal to switch between activities depending on my emotional state. This way I can be an artist at all times. When I’m feeling blue I can sit down and draw or write a poem. When I wanna dance I make a performance. When I need to move my ass a sculpture is a perfect physical exercise. I feel the personality traits of introversion and extroversion within me. In my experience the introvert mixes well with the making of handicraft as well as writing. The extrovert makes for a good storyteller, singer and dancer. There are so many brilliant outputs in contemporary art. We are the luckiest of cultural workers.”

Switching between these different activities, there are also important elements of sculpture, performance, and breaking the fourth wall in Styrmir’s The Thirteenth Month. In one form, green sculptures of flying birds are propped up on a magnetic structure. The sculptures are plastic and abstract, flying in space in static motion. At the opening, viewers were allowed to touch and interact with them, making their shadows echo and shadow further out the boundaries of the gallery’s floors and walls. Here Styrmir critically and comically breaks an inscribed rule within the white cube phenomenon: do not touch. Similarly, an odd sculptural staff with a mirror is propped on the wall; guests can pick it up and see their reflection behind them. It is humorous and performative in a uniquely casual way that makes us question why these modes of behavior within our social art world are inscribed in us to begin with.

“I am used to being a performer in front of people. I love doing that, especially when extroversion levels are high. I feel great without the fourth wall. Things can go beautifully right or wrong without it. But I know it is demanding for the visitor to not have the fourth wall. Without the fourth wall people cannot snooze and eat popcorn. It keeps them on their toes. For The Thirteenth Month I wanted to continue the performance practice without being a performer or director myself. So I planted objects in the show with the hope that guests would meddle with them. I look at them as tools to activate the exhibition guest’s imagination.”

In the middle is a metal sculpture – guests were invited to try and take it apart, to solve the puzzle. Just this simple action created an atmosphere of comedy and lightness, breaking the often stiff, sterile, veering towards snobbish  nature of many art openings.

“The puzzle was one of the exhibition tools – a performance. Many gave it a go and tried to solve the riddle. Even philosophers and astrophysicists. They were sweating and blushing from trying to crack the challenge without any luck. Eventually a young cool person, by the name of Uggi, came along and solved the problem in a matter of seconds. He received a standing ovation from the exhibition crowd. Ingibjörg gave him the finest bottle of white wine as an award. Well done Uggi!” 

In these ways The Thirteenth Month is a then questioning of human nature – why do we follow our ascribed societal rules and patterns? In the face of the vastness of the cosmos, portals to other dimensions, alternate universes somewhere beyond, these norms are bleakly arbitrary.  Strymir pushes us to rethink the purpose and functioning of these almost sacralized behaviors of the white cube gallery space. 

“The art world is indeed a high brow place that mostly seduces intellectuals. Many people who are not workers in art feel unsure if everyone is invited to openings and art shows. Of course everyone is invited to art but looking from outside there is this air of exclusivity. People tend to think that contemporary art is something to be understood when it is merely there to tickle your feelings (just like all the other art forms). Art spaces are so sterile and there are some etiquettes such as do not touch. Thank God, otherwise our art history would be covered in mold and finger grease. In my exhibition, though, I have objects that are meant to be touched. But this invitation comes from my longing for live work or for an impromptu performance to happen.”

In the vastness of a cosmic reality, Styrmir questions these ascribed behaviors, high brow nature, exclusivity, etiquette, standing quietly in awe, etc. How can we interact with art in a way that is  more playful? Like Styrmir ponders, “Death. Science. Near-death. Animalia. Life.” – There is a whole cosmos out there, and how banal are our art world interactions, in relation to all of this? Perhaps his exhibition, The Thirteenth Month, is a lesson to be learned; not to take ourselves quite so seriously in the face of art.

Daría Sól Andrews


Photos: Courtesy of BERG Contemporary


„Event Horizon“ at BERG Contemporary: a conversation with artists Marie Søndergaard Lolk, Sigrid Sandström & Hulda Stefánsdóttir

„Event Horizon“ at BERG Contemporary: a conversation with artists Marie Søndergaard Lolk, Sigrid Sandström & Hulda Stefánsdóttir

„Event Horizon“ at BERG Contemporary: a conversation with artists Marie Søndergaard Lolk, Sigrid Sandström & Hulda Stefánsdóttir

I spoke with the artists of Berg Contemporary’s recently opened exhibition, Event Horizon. Marie Søndergaard Lolk, Sigrid Sandström & Hulda Stefánsdóttir told me about their practice in non-representational painting, the particularities of working jointly yet separately, and their inspirational references in creation. 

Can you describe for me the context behind your work in this exhibition at Berg Contemporary, ​Event Horizon​?

Hulda Stefánsdóttir: Soon after we started to discuss the possibility of a joint exhibition, we found a common denominator of our works and interests in the art historical notion of negative pictorial space in the context of contemporary painting practices. We were all interested in the processes of image making that deal with a transferal, an inverse of sorts, or a translation, a mirroring, and to a certain degree: a deliberate confusion – the negative that becomes the positive. During this time of correspondence an image of a black hole, constructed from a mega data and the result of decades long science research was published in the media. We were all captured by it. ​This black hole image is a translation of an ineffable phenomena, an image of a world beyond the image, the imagined, set forth as an assemblage of the furthest distance, boundaries referred to as an event horizon. You wonder which is the actual image, the bright orange-yellow halo of the black hole or the black middle dot in the image? In fact, the image is not an image as such and the black dot in the middle is not a black hole but rather the shadow of a black hole. This spoke directly to our approach to painting, provoking thoughts on the limits of visibility.

Are there any recurring themes that you find yourself coming back to in your practice, places you draw influence from?

HS: Representation of time and movement on the surface of a still canvas is an overreaching theme I have approached from various angles before. Paul Klee said that the point about painting was to spatialize perception and make time simultaneous. It has to do with the functions of memory and the impossibility of presenting any given moment without echoes or traces of the past. Deriving from this is my interest in repetitions and ideas of the original and the copy, the foreground and the background, silent and disturbed surfaces. I seek to repeat, dissolve and reduce imagery to ambiguity as to stress the instability of our perception. It also has to do with art history and the history of painting that is a constant source of influence on my practice. Not only the fairly recent history of modern abstract painting and the non-representational, but history of art and image making to the furthers extensions of the past: cave paintings and discoveries of the earliest mark makings and from there on to today. This incredible need we have for visual expression as a source of communication and confirmation of existence are an endless source of inspiration.

Marie Søndergaard Lolk: Lately I’ve worked with translations between different states of images, often using found images as a source. Sometimes I’m treating an image as information or as something textual, that can be broken down into components, and so can have ambiguous readings. Sometimes it’s the other way around, the textual breaking up into bits of matter. I’m also very interested in joining ideas of the personal and impersonal, e.g. through interpretations of found drawings or found handwriting. Another recurring aspect of my work is perhaps the inclusion of glitches and faults, which also relates to this idea of translations I mentioned, it always implies a level of distortion or misrepresentation. In that connection I find I’m often looking at the generalizations and categorizations that things fall into, both visually and language-wise when you’re working with images.

Sigrid Sandström: I have for the past few years been preoccupied with paintings as evidence of past activities and how they nevertheless operate in present tense as they “unfold” in front the viewer. Traces of the painting process become parts of the final image. I think of my paintings as projection surfaces upon which we project our own agendas, and the many possible ways of approaching/viewing a painting is of great interest to me. The reception of a painting will keep shifting over time, suddenly it belongs to history while never the less it still exists as an object in the present, and I keep thinking about how the viewing that takes part in the making of a painting is somewhat different from the kind of viewing that happens once the painting is completed, and free for grabs, if you so will. The fluidity of the thing is of great interest to me.


Describe for me your process of production, both mentally and in physical creation.

HS: I often start with a textual reference, but during the process I realize that it is no less a material, a tactile and visual one; various impressions accumulating in a particular visual idea. I never consider new work to begin at a point zero, the works build up and, in a way, I am constantly responding to the previous ones. It would be hard for me to distinct the thoughts of the mind and the physical actions of the creation, sometimes matter comes ahead of a concrete thought and sometimes it takes some time to put my thoughts into actions. It is all about the tacit knowledge of visual thinking and a continuous process.

ML: The works in this show I’ve approached as a kind of bands or sequences, similar to strings of writing or even comic strips. Different elements are repeated and, in that way, become as much structure as image. I wanted to work with the formats as well and make them more like lines or borders in the space, something that could work architecturally. They are made on foamboard with marker pen and watercolour and so share a visual affinity with drawing, although the process doesn’t have the same directness. The seemingly quick lines and gestures of the source image are stenciled and in other ways modulated, partly as a way of deliberately halting the fluidity if the image.

SS: In my case, everything that happens in the studio is interconnected to earlier works, either in direct response to it or as part of a more casual dialogue with previous works. For this exhibition I wanted to work with the positive as a negative and vice versa. For instance, at the moment I use cotton rugs dipped in paint to press to the surface of the canvas, just like printmaking, in order to make the imagery in my paintings. The image is thus the imprint of the absent object, or ghost image of the rug I used as tool. I am interested in the fact that the absence of something simultaneously becomes the image. For this exhibition I chose to, in addition to the “printed” paintings show the actual tools (cotton rugs) as works in and of themselves along with the paintings.

How do you define nonrepresentational painting and its boundaries, as in the absence of an image?

HS:​ I think that one of the things we have in common as artists is to question the definitions and boundaries between the nonrepresentational and the representational. So, our painting practices deal more with the tension, and instability between the two, rather than the compartmentalization​.
I question the image as such and at the same time I see my painting process as akin to printmaking or photographic dark room processes. What are we really seeing? To me it seems like a fragmented whole in a shifting and turning context. And the boundaries are constantly extended, the absence of an image broadening the pictorial surface and pushing the edge of visibility to the unforeseen.


How do you each as separate artists experience your three practices coming together in this exhibition?

HS: For me the dialogue and collaboration with Sigrid and Marie has been a challenging and enriching experience. Challenging in the positive way that it has provoked me to consider my work in a more direct broader context and enriching for the same reason, a sense for a wider perspective, shared commonalities and differences, yet a passion for the possibilities of the painting in contemporary art.

ML: I agree, it’s been a really good process and, to me, a stimulating encounter between our three quite different practices. I find the show to have some appealing dissonances as well as obvious common interest points. But it’s not so simple after all, I feel the show as a whole hasn’t quite settled in my mind yet.

SS: The show turned out surprisingly cohesive I find, because our approaches to art diverge from one another quite a bit. I very much enjoyed the collective effort of putting something together that was quite intangible at first. The days of installing the show were very focused as we were trying to get to know, understand and address our intentions and motivations. I thought we were very responsive to each other and our subtle, non-hierarchical collective way of decision making through trial and error was enriching for me. 

Event Horizon​, how do you define this term in relation to your exhibition here at Berg?

HS: As previously described the event horizon presented this viewpoint of imaging the end of visibility that we have all dealt with in one way or another in our works. A certain dishevelment that plays with these borderlines. The work may indicate a landscape, an object or a structure, but the work process always entails a willful distortion of a known reality. You question what you see and present a different way of visual experiencing / reading. The literate connotation of the phenomena is an inspiration in and of itself; event as an action, horizon as an indication of a distance, or a landscape, imagined or real. The Icelandic word Sjónhvörf, literally translates to edge of vision, and has a connation to myndhvörf (metaphor) or hvörf, that marks a turning point, the end of something and beginning of another, perhaps not yet known.

Why abstraction? What are the possibilities for you as artists in this specific approach?

HS: I think the free open space of abstraction is such an interesting way to approach existence and this crisscrossing time space we live in. These marks and dissolving symbols of a language meaning cut up and re-assembled, fragmented impressions that come together yet also feel like they are about to dissolve or burst.


Daría Sól Andrews


Event Horizon ​at Berg Contemporary runs until September 7, 2019.

Photos courtesy of Berg Contemporary and the artists.

Artists’ websites:

Marie Søndergaard Lolk:

Hulda Stefánsdóttir:

Sigrid Sandström:

Rósa Gisladóttir’s Mesh of Material and Light

Rósa Gisladóttir’s Mesh of Material and Light

Rósa Gisladóttir’s Mesh of Material and Light

Mediums, or the channels through which cultural practices are transmitted, have been subject of extensive research and re-defining in recent years. Irrespectively, the material world itself often seems absent, or non-relevant. In this exhibition, mediums are rethought in context of the intellectual and physical substance of Matter. Aristotle’s understanding of Matter is that any material object/substance is generated by receiving Form, therefore it becomes Substance. It can be neither independent nor inseparable from its surrounding environment. Τhe other elements that define Matter are Energy and Purpose. Altogether they fabricate actuality and an undeveloped potentiality.

Medium of Matter strikes the visitor as a gathering of forms, studied in relation to their environment: their roots and their footprint on the space. The works exhibited are of two general natures, intermingling together through spatial continuity and the antithesis of light.

In the hall, furthest from the entrance of the gallery space, extended windows allow the natural light to shed onto sculptures made of plaster. Placed on an illuminated plexiglass platform, they lie there resembling a still-life snapshot. The objects cast glowing shadows on the surface transpiring a sensation that they are wafting over it. The lines are clear, the angles sharp yet softened and harmonic. Time and gravity are ever-present. There lies a certain fascination of re-inventing potential everyday-use objects into new forms. Aesthetically, they depict an obvious Greco-Roman influence with a minimalistic twist. A connection can be traced to the artist’s 2012 project Like Water Like Gold (2012, Trajan’s Market, Rome), where large-scale sculptures of a similar nature became an attempt to experiment with ancient forms and modern materials – the element of light always playing a predominant role.

In the rest of the space, wooden, featherweight architectural structures extend through invisible lines towards the skies and the three dimensions, or sole windows – open gates to new ones. The large structures in the centre are slender and transparent, allowing the viewers’ eyes to linger on apparent impalpable forms and to follow on all surrounding surfaces their large, intimidating dark shadows, which multiply their spatial impact. Intense beams of light of artificial source accentuate the delicacy of the material and the frames, that comes into controversy with their constructivist references.

An installation of ancient temple pediment-like molds hung on one wall appears as an anamnesis of classical-period remnants. Which as in the rest of the works, comes perhaps as an attempt to communicate the inborn symbiotic relationship between architecture and sculpture, deriving from material and utility.

Katerína Spathi

Photo credit: Irini Spathi

Að sleppa takinu

Að sleppa takinu

Að sleppa takinu

Einkasýning Björns Roth stendur nú yfir í BERG Contemporary við Klapparstíg. Sýning Björns byggir á stórum, expressíonískum olíumálverkum og myndröðum unnum með vatnslitum, verkum þar sem tjáning og tilviljun mætast. Björn Roth, sonur Dieters Roth, á langan feril að baki í myndlistinni. Bæði sem sonur föður síns í samstarfi og sýningarstjórn og í eigin listsköpun.

Eins og fram kemur í texta um Björn sem fylgir sýningunni í BERG, hóf Björn listsköpun sína í tengslum við gjörningalist áttunda og níunda áratugar, en var þegar á níunda áratug orðinn náinn samstarfsmaður föður síns, Dieters. Eftir lát hans árið 1998 hefur Björn stýrt dánarbúinu og unnið áfram að þróun verka sem þeir feðgar sköpuðu saman, í anda þess samruna lífs og listar sem ávallt einkenndi listsköpun Dieters Roth.
Hér sýnir Björn verk sem unnin eru í einveru listamanns en ekki í samstarfi við aðra. Verkin á sýningunni eru unnin á tímabilinu frá 2009 og fram til dagsins í dag. Málverkin eru af öðrum toga en stórar innsetningar Dieters og Björns, þó byggja þau á sameiginlegum grunni.

Listsköpun sjöunda og áttunda áratugarins einkenndist af miklu umróti. Fluxus, gjörningalist og hugmyndalist tröllriðu listheiminum, í takt við umbyltingar í samfélaginu. Segja má að unga kynslóð þessa tíma hafi sameinast um eitt á öllum sviðum samfélagsins: uppreisn. Uppreisn gegn yfirvöldum eins og ´68 kynslóðin sýndi svo eftirminnilega en líka uppreisn gegn hefðbundnum gildum í listsköpun. Fluxus-listamenn lögðu áherslu á að nú gæti allt verið list, listaverk mætti skapa úr hvaða ómerkilega hráefni sem væri og allir mættu kalla sig listamann. Mörk milli listgreina urðu ógreinilegri og ekki síst var hugmyndinni um samruna lífs og listar haldið fagnandi á lofti. Í þessum frjóa jarðvegi urðu til mörg verka Dieters Roth og á áttunda áratugnum hóf Björn Roth þátttöku í framúrstefnulegum og áleitnum gjörningum. Þessi óhefti andi frjálsrar listsköpunar sem sprottin var úr hversdagslífinu yfirgaf aldrei verk Dieters Roth og sameiginleg verk þeirra feðga einkennast meðal annars af því sterka grundvallarviðhorfi að sköpun sé sjálfsagður hluti af lífinu.

Sú tilfinning einkennir einnig verk Björns Roth í BERG. Stór olíumálverk hans eiga rætur sínar að rekja til expressionisma í málverki sem á sér nokkrar birtingarmyndir á tuttugustu öldinni. Hvort sem um var að ræða ljóðrænan expressionisma Kandinsky, slettumálverk Pollock eða hráa bylgju nýja málverksins á áttunda og níunda áratug, bjó ávallt sú hugsun að baki að málverkið væri kjörinn miðill persónulegrar tjáningar, farvegur fyrir tilfinningar listamannsins.

Björn Roth sýnir tvær myndraðir olíumálverka á sýningunni. Þetta eru bæði stór og smærri verk þar sem síbylja línu og og litar myndar óreiðukennda en samtengda heild, formin eru lífræn, gjarnan hringform og litina má tengja við náttúru, leysingar, vatnsflaum. Í verkunum má finna fyrir orkuflæði sem gæti tengst íslenskri náttúru en þetta eru þó ekki náttúrumyndir. Önnur myndröð hefur léttara yfirbragð, hér er olíuliturinn jafnvel notaður áþekkt og vatnslitur og fær að flæða og leka um myndflötinn. Sterkar, hraðar línur skapa teikningu á ljósum grunni. Aðrar olíumyndir minna á kalligrafíu í lausum, stórum og frjálsum pensilstrokum.

Björn sýnir síðan myndraðir unnar með vatnslitum, undir titlunum Taugasallat, Hrákökur, Krapi og Flóð og fyrir utan Flóð er fleiri en ein myndröð undir hverju heiti. Í þessum verkum birtist sá bakgrunnur sem nefndur var áðan bæði í titlum verkanna og í vinnuaðferðum. Titlarnir eru hversdagslegir í anda þeirrar hugmyndar að líf og list séu órjúfanlega tengd, verkin eru líkt og hugleiðing sprottin upp úr hversdagslífinu, upp úr andblæ og stemningu daganna. Myndraðirnar Hrákökur I og II eru lífrænar og sumar líkamlegar, samspil litar og vatns skapar blæbrigði á myndfletinum, hér kemur listamaðurinn af stað ferli sem hann hefur ekki nema að hluta til á valdi sínu.

Ferlislist, list sem leit svo á að þróun sköpunarferlis væri inntak listaverka kom fram upp úr miðri síðustu öld. Sum verka Arte Povera listhreyfingarinnar á Ítalíu einkenndust af slíkri hugsun, þar sem lífrænt ferli er grundvöllur listaverks. Ekki er miðað við endanlega niðurstöðu sem hið eina sanna listaverk, heldur er listaverkið ferli í tíma og rúmi, oft efnafræðilegt ferli á borð við rotnun eða efnafræðilegar umbreytingar. Þetta átti líka við um Fluxus-list Dieters Roth. Þessi ferlishugsun náði að skjóta rótum í listsköpun og birtist í margvíslegum myndum fram í samtímann. Í verkum Björns birtist ferlið annars vegar í efnafræðilegu samspili litar og vatns, en ekki síður, eins og í myndröðinni Flóð, verður til sjónræn frásögn af sköpunarferli þar sem ákveðin stígandi verður í verkinu frá fyrstu mynd til þeirrar síðustu. Ennfremur er vísað til síbreytilegs ferlis náttúrunnar í myndröðunum Blár krapi og Grænn krapi, þar sem litarefni á myndfleti mætast, þykkt og þunnt, gegnsæir litir í samspili við matta svo minnir á áferð krapahröngls.

Titill sýningar Björns kemur frá myndröðum undir samheitinu Taugasallat, eins og til að árétta tengsl tilfinninga og myndverka. Hér sprettur litaflæði frá lífrænum kjarna, af orku og spennu sem kallar fram sprengingu á myndfletinum. Í þessum myndum, eins og í öðrum verkum á sýningunni, birtist samspil einbeittrar sköpunar listamannsins og tilviljunarkennt flæði litarins, sköpun og tilviljun takast á og á einhverjum tímapunkti sleppir listamaðurinn takinu og lífið tekur við.

Sýningin Taugasallat í BERG Contemporary, Klapparstíg 16, stendur til 28. apríl.
Opið þri. – fös. 11-17 og lau. 13-17

Ragna Sigurðardóttir

Greinin er gerð í samstarfi við BERG Contemporary.
Ljósmyndir: Vigfús Birgisson.

Slegið á litaskalann í BERG Contemporary

Slegið á litaskalann í BERG Contemporary

Slegið á litaskalann í BERG Contemporary

Það er eitthvað við skammdegið. Bleik, síðbúin sólarupprás, rökkurblámi, gullið síðdegissólarlag og síðan tekur við djúpt vetrarmyrkrið lýst upp af marglitum ljósum. Stemning skapast í borginni og kyrrð í náttúrunni. Samsýningin #CURRENTMOOD sem stendur yfir í galleríinu BERG Contemporary við Klapparstíg fangar þessa hauststemningu, þar sem skærir litir stíga fram úr rökkrinu og virka sterkt á áhorfandann. Þau sem sýna eru Haraldur Jónsson, John Zurier, Kees Visser, Páll Haukur Björnsson og Þorgerður Þórhallsdóttir. Listamennirnir eru af ólíkum kynslóðum en ákveðið abstrakt leiðarstef er í verkum þeirra. Á sýningunni er slegið á strengi sem skapa samhljóm, en að auki vísa verk hvers listamanns um sig í ýmsar áttir og tengjast hræringum í listum frá síðustu öld og til samtímans.

Andlegar víddir

Abstraktlistin er rúmlega aldargömul og innan hennar hafa listamenn fetað fjölbreyttar slóðir, stefnur hafa endurnýjast eða liðið undir lok. 1910 kom út rit Wassilys Kandinsky, Über das Geistige in Der kunst, Um andlegan þátt listarinnar, en þar fjallar hann um sjálfstæða tilvist lita og forma, óháð tengingu við sýnilegan raunveruleika. Litir og form voru líkt og tónlist, hélt Kandinsky fram á byltingarkenndan máta á sínum tíma; fólu í sér andlegar víddir. Með samspili lita og forma, uppbyggingu og hrynjandi á myndfleti, var hægt að vekja upp tilfinningar hjá áhorfandanum, ekki ósvipað og þegar hlustað er á tónlist. Málverkið öðlaðist sjálfstætt líf. Kazimir Malevitch gekk skrefi lengra þegar hann málaði svartan ferning á hvítum grunni árið 1915. Ferningurinn táknaði hinn andlega þátt tilverunnar, þar leitaði Malevitch skjóls frá raunveruleikanum, en í náttúrunni eru engin ferhyrnd form. Hið sama var upp á teningnum í sterkri öldu abstraktlistar um miðja tuttugustu öld. Listamenn leituðust við að tjá eitthvað dýpra og meira en yfirborð málverksins hver á sinn hátt, hvort sem um var að ræða lýríska abstraktlist eða geómetríska harðlínustefnu. Og allar götur síðan birtast abstrakt þættir í verkum listamanna, hvort sem listamaðurinn vinnur beinlínis út frá slíkum vangaveltum um form og liti, eða hann notar eiginleika þeirra til að styðja við verk sín.

Skærir tónar á djúpum grunni

Eitt af því sem var upphafsmönnum abstraktlistar hugleikið var hlutverk listarinnar í samfélaginu. Að þeirra mati átti listin ekki að hafa hversdagslegt notagildi heldur vera andlegt athvarf. Listamennirnir sem hér sýna myndu líklega taka undir þetta sjónarmið. Í dag erum við þó kannski opnari fyrir því að erfitt er að greina milli andlegs og veraldlegs notagildis, í stressuðum heimi ávinnur andlegi þátturinn sér sess. Við leitum í andlega þáttinn og fyrir mörgum er myndlistin kjörinn vettvangur, í henni má finna skjól og hvíld, stíga út úr hversdagslegum raunveruleikanum og upplifa eitthvað sem við eigum ekki endilega orð yfir. Það er einmitt þessi stemning sem ríkir á #CURRENTMOOD, tilfinning fyrir því að stíga út úr skammdegismyrkrinu og upplifa annan heim um stund.

Hæglátur taktur

Hér á sér stað áhugavert samspil listamanna sem lært hafa og þroskast á mismunandi tímum og stöðum, allt frá Kees Visser sem mótaðist sem listamaður á áttunda áratug síðustu aldar, til yngsta listamannsins, Þorgerðar Þórhallsdóttur sem lauk meistaranámi í Malmö á síðasta ári. Þorgerður sýnir þrjú vídeóverk.

Í samhengi skammdegis og staðsetningar í miðbænum minnir sorti myndflatarins á borgarmyrkur, ég hugsaði um regnvott malbik sem glampar á í skini götuljósa en verkin eru þó ekki hvað síst abstrakt. Hæg hreyfing og síbreytilegt ljósflökt eru dáleiðandi, eins og að horft sé á sjónræna möntru. Þorgerður hefur á síðustu árum unnið vídeóverk í bland við innsetningar þar sem ljós, skuggar og hreyfing eru í miðpunkti, íhugul verk og falleg. Hér fær einfeldnin að njóta sín og verk hennar slá hæglátan takt í sýningunni. Þetta samspil myrkurs og ljóss kallast á við ljósmyndir Haralds Jónssonar af ljósbrotum á pappír.

Hvikult ljós

Myndröð Haralds eftir endilöngum vegg gallerísins hverfist um birtu og ber nafnið Litrof. Litsterkir ljósgeislar falla á verk úr hvítum pappír og skapa nýtt verk. Myndirnar eru allt frá því að vera í daufum pastellitum til þess að minna á litsterkt sólarlag, sumar eru líkt og abstraktmálverk en aðrar fanga litróf skammdegisbirtunnar með sterku samspili skærrar birtu og djúpra skugga. Þetta eru hrein abstraktverk en sköpuð eins og af tilviljun, máluð með ljósi, af þeirri næmu, ljóðrænu tilfinningu sem jafnan einkennir verk Haralds, hvort sem það eru skúlptúrar, innsetningar eða ljóð.

Haraldur Jónsson

Ljósbrot hverfullar birtu eru fönguð augnablik, eins og náðarkraftur. Þessi hvikula birta er einnig leiðarstef í vatnslitaverkum Johns Zurier sem bera nöfn er tengjast náttúrunni og eru máluð hér á landi, en fela ekki hvað síst í sér abstrakt þætti.

Vatnslitaverk Johns Zurier

Þrjár litlar vatnslitamyndir draga fram einkenni málarans sem leitast við að draga fram kjarna birtu og forma sem hann upplifir í náttúrunni. Hér notar hann möguleika vatnslitanna til að kalla fram andstæður flæðandi birtu og svartamyrkurs.


Kees Visser er hollenskur en hefur búið og dvalið reglulega hér á landi síðan á áttunda áratugnum. Bakgrunnur hans í hugmyndalist og naumhyggju kemur fram í málverkum hans, en verkin Y-86 og Y-82, bæði frá árinu 2017 eru í einfaldleika sínum líkt og fastir viðmiðunarpunktar sýningarinnar, gult og dökkt, ljós og myrkur og öll hin verkin lenda einhvers staðar á rófinu þarna á milli.

Verk Kees Visser eru fremst á myndinni.

Verkin eru eintóna en fela í sér áferð, liturinn er þykkur og hrjúfur. Kees Visser hefur um áratuga skeið unnið með einlit málverk í samspili við rými, hann setur þau fram á ótal vegu og hefur líkt vinnuaðferðum sínum við að spila skák, þar sem hver leikur felur í sér endurtekningu en engu að síður er niðurstaðan aldrei eins.

Sígild minni

Páll Haukur lauk meistaranámi við California Institute of the Arts árið 2013. Abstrakt þættir, skuggaspil, málverk og aðferðir innsetninga byggja upp myndverkin sem hann sýnir hér. Hann leitast við að virkja listaverk sín og tengja þau áhorfendum á áþreifanlegan hátt. Lágmyndir hans sem skaga út í rýmið varpa litskugga sem færist til eftir því hvar áhorfandinn er staddur.

Páll Haukur Björnsson

Óvænt innskot í þessi abstrakt verk eru síðan raunverulegir ávextir, epli, sítróna, sem rotna eða eru endurnýjuð að vild. Eigandi slíks verks þarf að taka þátt í viðhaldi þess með því að endurnýja ávöxtinn. Þannig mætast á frjóan hátt sígild minni málaralistar, kyrralíf og abstrakt, og straumar í samtímalistum.

Páll Haukur Björnsson

Páll Haukur notar líka orð í myndum sínum, t.d. í stórri innsetningu á vegg og á gólfi. Hér á listaverkið sér líka lifandi, lífrænan þátt, en að segja hver hann er jaðrar við að spilla upplifun áhorfenda sem eiga eftir að sjá sýninguna. Páll Haukur sýnir í þessum verkum frjóan huga sem krystallast í einfaldleika.

Tengsl abstraktlistamanna og tónlistar voru sterk framan af tuttugustu öld og þessi sýning kallar þau fram í hugann. Hér koma saman listamenn sem eiga uppruna sinn í ólíkum liststefnum, en verkin sem valin eru saman magna upp hljóm og styðja hvert annað, leika saman ljúfan og sterkan skammdegisblús.

 Sýningin #CURRENTMOOD í BERG Contemporary, Klapparstíg 16, stendur til 22. desember.
Opið þri. – fös. 11-17 og lau. 13-17

Ragna Sigurðardóttir

Greinin er gerð í samstarfi við BERG Contemporary.
Ljósmyndir: Helga Óskarsdóttir.


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