Greinasafni: Söfn
Still Life :The exhibition focuses on still life paintings by Icelandic artists of different generations
The exhibition focuses on still life paintings by Icelandic artists of different generations, some better known for other types of work. Artworks from the Hafnarborg collection will be on display as well as works from other public and private collections. This is an opportunity to see works by some of the country’s most important 20th century artists such as Louisa Matthíasdóttir, Kjarval, Kristín Jónsdóttir, Jón Stefánsson and Gunnlaugur Blöndal. Curated by Ólöf K. Sigurðardóttir and Þorbjörg Br. Gunnarsdóttir.

Still life
Curator's text

Arrangements have long been the subject of artists; a subject at times loaded with symbols and sometimes the purest taking on of form and colour. The simplest common denominator of work of this kind is everyday objects arranged on a table which the artist then recreates in a painting or a drawing. The concept Still life is wideranging and has changed through the course of time. The works reflect the spirit of the times and ideas about the artistic interpretation of form and content at each time.

In this exhibition, the focus is mainly on the artist taking on the basic elements of composition which always characterises still life works. The internal structure of the surface, the interplay of colour and form, texture, light and shadow create a unity which satisfies the artist’s visual need for symmetry. Most of the works are by 20th century Icelandic painters, some of whom have dedicated a substantial part of their careers to still life, but also by artists who are known for works of an altogether different kind. However, one can often detect a painter’s characteristics; form or use of colour, which characterises other work by the artists in question. Special attention is given to reflections on form and furthermore, time and the spirit of the times may be read through the working methods used and ideological characteristics, where the artists’ style and subject are easily recognisable.

The oldest works in the exhibition are in traditional style as most of the artists had attended established European arts academies where emphasis was placed on academic workmanship in the approach to a subject. The emphasis of the works is on the form, colour and texture of the subject, which often are a beautiful flower or a bouquet of flowers in a vase, along with the occasional bowl or decorative object on a cloth-covered table. Icelandic women who engaged in painting in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century made a substantial number of still life paintings. The subject was considered well suited to women. Furthermore, female art students were not allow to practice drawing the forms of the human body except from statues or parts of statues and other dead objects – still life. Women’s place in society at this time also contributed to female artists more often seeking subjects for their work in their immediate environment, the home and the studio.

There was great ground swell in painting throughout the 20th century. This reflects a transformation in the field of technology and the progress which then occurred and the philosophical questions of time and space which came in its wake. Artists‘ still life paintings from this period demonstrate that the taking on of form is often the main subject of the paintings. The form of the subject is broken up and rearranged, choice of colour is often further removed from reality and the objects simpler; everyday household objects such as water jugs and food bowls along with vegetables or various other foods.

Throughout the ages, still life has not always been highly regarded in the art world but it has always survived in some form. The manifestation of the subject has evolved although still life as a subject always entails the artist’s taking on the basic elements of structure, whether in two-dimensional or three-dimensional form, photographs or digital technology. In this exhibition, the emphasis is on still life in traditional media and the paintings of the contemporary artists who have works in the exhibition are characterised by an awareness of history although viewpoints and ideological approaches are moulded by the present. As at the beginning of the last century, it is the internal structure of the surface, the interplay of colour and form, texture, light and shadow which need to create unity and fulfil the visual need for symmetry.

In the exhibition are works from Hafnarborg‘s own collection and works lent by the ASÍ Art Museum, the National Gallery of Iceland, the Reykjavík Art Museum, private individuals and artists.

Curators are Ólöf K. Sigurðardóttir and Þorbjörg Br. Gunnarsdóttir.

Hafnarborg
The Hafnarfjordur Centre of Culture and Fine Art

Strandgata 34
220 Hafnarfjörður Iceland

Open every day from 12–17  and Thursdays 11–21.
Closed on Tuesdays.

www.hafnarborg.is
hafnarborg@hafnarfjordur.is
+354 585 5790    

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