Karl Einarsson Dunganon
6.10.2018 — 27.1.2019
6.10.2018 — 27.1.2019
Ólafur Ingi Jónsson
Exhibiton comittee and authors
The National Gallery of Iceland holds an exhibition of a selection of the works of Karl Einarsson Dunganon, which aims to throw light on the life and art of this unusual artist, who always cherished a great affection for Iceland, and bequeathed his life's work to the Icelandic nation. The National Gallery collection includes more than 200 works by the artist, while his poetry, scrapbooks and other papers are in the National Archives.
Karl Kerúlf Einarsson was born in Iceland in 1897, and moved to the Faroes as a child, and then to Denmark where he lived for much of his life, dying in 1972. He adopted the surname Dunganon, and also used various other names, according to how he presented himself at different times. Probably the best-known of his pseudonyms is Duke of St. Kilda. Although he never visited the Scottish archipelago, he claimed authority over it, declaring himself master of the islands and made himself a passport, a seal of state and a postal stamp, and issued knighthoods.
Karl Einarsson Dunganon, Duke of St. Kilda, was a bohemian who lived in many European cities at different periods. He published his first volume of verse in 1931, and after 1946 he started drawing and painting, and illustrated many of his poems. While he was self-taught as an artist, his work shows familiarity with art of various periods and cultures.
Dunganon believed he could see into other, hidden, worlds, and in his art he often depicted visions or dreams, although his subjects also include more mundane themes. But he always tended toward the decorative, and his pictures are invariably colourful, with a narrative and fantastical ambiance.
The exhibition will include a large number of works from the Oracles series, which numbers about 250 works illustrating his poetry collection Oracles of St. Kilda. The themes of the pictures span a diverse range, including animals and fantastical creatures, erupting volcanoes, beautiful women and triumphant hunters. The works, made between 1946 and 1960, are all of similar size, made on paper with many different colour media, and varnished.
In connection with the exhibition a book about poet/artist Dunganon will be published, giving an overview of his eventful life and oeuvre, including a detailed study of his visual art, and especially the Oracles series. The book is edited by Helga Hjörvar and Harpa Björnsdóttir.