• Helgi Þorgils

OTHER HATS - Icelandic printmaking

ICELANDIC PRINTMAKING

  • 11.5.2018 - 23.9.2018, Listasafn Íslands
The National Gallery of Iceland presents an exhibition highlighting the extraordinary creative impulse and technical craftsmanship found in contemporary Icelandic printmaking. Curated by Ingibjörg Jóhannsdóttir and Pari Stave, the exhibition looks specifically at printmaking as it is practiced in parallel with other means of expression, and includes artists who are writers and composers, as well as visual artists working primarily in painting, sculpture, installation, conceptual art, performance and video. 

Other hats – Icelandic printmaking features over 100 prints and multiples by 27 artists, with examples dating from 1957 to the present. The exhibition covers a wide range of printmaking types, from traditional etching and silkscreen to monotype and 3-D printing techniques. 
The exhibition upends the notion that printmaking is a marginalized medium; instead it is presented as a practice worthy of consideration in its own right for its intrinsic qualities of reproduction, repetition, seriality, variation and improvisation. The underlying theme of the exhibition is the question of why an artist chooses to work in printmaking. 

Among the artists featured in the exhibition are the poet-composer-performers Magnús Þór Jónsson (aka Megas), who created a series of self-portrait etchings in 1985, and Björk Guðmundsdóttir, whose work is represented by a hand-colored fairy tale book from 1984.
Magnús Þór: “My main profession is composing songs and performing them. The urge to make visual art has not succeeded in changing that fact. But if drawing is needed, drawing is done.” 
Of his approach to printmaking, the writer-artist Hallgrímur Helgason has remarked: “I have always been drawn to prints for they are so closely related to the printing of books. I also work as a writer, so the A4 has been my habitual playground all my life. The pen has only to decide whether it wants to write or draw.” 
Other hats - Icelandic Prinmaking includes prominent artists working in Iceland today, such as painter Arnar Herbertsson, sculptor and draftsman Guðjón Ketilsson, painter Helgi Þorgils Friðjónsson, muralist Sara Riel, and performance and installation artist Rúrí, painter Sigurður Árni Sigurðsson, conceptual artist Sigurður Guðmundsson, and sculptors Sólveig Aðalsteinsdóttir and Valgerður Guðlaugsdóttir, as well as artists who are expatriated to elsewhere: the sculptor and installation artists Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir and Katrín Sigurðardóttir. Also included are artists who have made Iceland their residence long enough to have absorbed the ethos of the place in their work, including Roni Horn, Richard Serra, and Per Kirkeby
The German-Swiss artist Dieter Roth moved to Reykjavík in 1957, and greatly influenced printmaking in Iceland. He introduced bold and innovative approaches to the medium. (In creating multiples Roth experimented with sausages, fruit juice, scrambled eggs, melted cheese, chocolate and other foods.) Included in the exhibition is his portfolio of pages which can be re-arranged by the viewer, a precursor to the variability in the work of several artists today, including Eygló Harðardóttir, Rúna Þorkelsdóttir and Þóra Sigurðardóttir, whose works can be displayed in a multitude of ways.

And Rúna describes her relationship with the print medium: “…during the best hours of printing, it's like the machine is singing and I sing along with it, the colors coming out of the machine by the kilometer."

The exhibition also includes the work of important Icelandic artists who have passed away in the last decade, the painters Georg Guðni Hauksson and Kristján Davíðsson, and the conceptual artist Birgir Andrésson.

Three artists will create new works as part of the exhibition. Hrafnkell Sigurðsson will create an ephemeral handprint monotype directly on the museum's walls. Leifur Ýmir Eyjólfsson and Sigurður Atli Sigurðsson will conduct printmaking workshops at the museum. 
The exhibition was originally organized by the International Print Center New York, under the title Other Hats: Icelandic Printmaking. It has been expanded and adapted for the National Gallery of Iceland. 

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Curators: Ingibjörg Jóhannsdóttir og Pari Stave

Artists:  Arnar Herbertsson  Birgir Andrésson  Björk Guðmundsdóttir  Dieter Roth  Eygló Harðardóttir  Georg Guðni  Guðjón Ketilsson  Hallgrímur Helgason  Helgi Þorgils Friðjónsson  Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter Hrafnkell Sigurðsson  Katrín Sigurðardóttir
Kristján Daviðsson Leifur Ýmir Eyjólfsson
Magnús Þór Jónsson (Megas)
Per Kirkeby
Richard Serra
Roni Horn
Sara Riel
Rúna Þorkelsdóttir
Rúrí
Sigurður Árni Sigurðsson
Sigurður Atli Sigurðsson
Sigurður Guðmundsson
Sólveig Aðalsteinsdóttir
Þóra Sigurðardóttir
Valgerður Guðlaugsdóttir 
Image: Helgi Þorgils Friðjónsson, Samferðarmenn (Fellow Travelers), 1986. Etching. Printed by Norbert Weber, Eckernförde. Courtesy of the artist.