Temma in a garden chair
Louisa Matthíasdóttir 1917-2000
Louisa lived and worked outside of Iceland for most of her life. She created spectacular paintings where the landscapes and colourful glory of the Icelandic nature, mountains and green meadows, shepherds, outlines of glaciers and the light, can be seen in her works. A core of her works is her search for light. Her visual language is recognisable, clear and concise colours create sharp contrasts in her motives of nature, urban environment and domestic still life. Louisa’s style depicts an unusually sharp feeling for colour combinations, power and boldness. Her painting is disciplined and pure and freed of all frills which renders distinct forms and a crystal clear core or an idea that the painting is based on. Louisa studied commercial drawing at Den Tekniske Selskabs Skole in Copenhagen 1934–1937 and art in Paris with Marcel Gromaire 1938–1939. In Paris she met Nína Tryggvadóttir who would become her companion. They were two Icelanders living far from home, yet consistently dealing with Icelandic nature in their very different works. Nína and Louisa frequented Unuhús before they went to America, a sort of haven for poets and artists in Reykjavík. The minds of an entire generation of artists were shaped in Unuhús during a time of great upheaval and the two friends were at the heart of this process. Nína would gradually become more and more abstract in her works but Louisa was occupied with figurative painting. She was influenced by abstract art which can be seen in her forms becoming simpler and the subjects giving way to a more geometric interplay of colours that lacked the figurative details. Louisa often painted the streetscape of old Reykjavík and the Icelandic landscape but her subjects also included the home, family members and friends or household objects. Louisa painted a number of self-portraits and the grappling with the self-portrait has in a way characterised Louisa’s career.