Imprints, Installations at the Luise Ross Gallery in New York
Guðrún Kristjánsdóttir has long concentrated on the presentation of nature in her paintings, sculptures, prints and video art. The mountains of Iceland provide her with endless variations and in recent years she has charted the ever-changing patterns that appear on their sheer sides as the weather shifts and shapes drifts of snow along crags and gullies. The receding snows of spring, in particular, inscribe fascinating shapes on the mountainsides, a kind of organic writing produced entirely by natural forces. Recording these patterns, Guðrún transfers them onto her canvases and prints where they take on not only a permanent form but also new layers of meaning as formal studies of our perception of shapes and backgrounds. The shift from nature to art also shifts the sense. By isolating parts of the whole and reproducing them in artworks – literally framing them anew – Guðrún raises questions about the relationship of art and nature and about the way we read our environment. The viewer becomes conscious of the act of reading and the choices we make when we produce or enjoy artworks in the context that we have marked out for them, the gallery or museum, for example. In the present exhibition, Guðrún makes her point succinctly, exposing the process by literally shifting the artwork from its context to show the relationship of part and whole and demonstrate the change she effects in her work.
Guðjón Ketilsson has chosen wood as his primary material and his subject matter varies though the work most often relates in some way to our human bodily presence and the things we produce to extend and amplify our physical world. The carved shoes marked a key moment in the development of his art, evoking human presence while in fact the body remains absent. Instead of representing the human form, Guðjón suggests it by showing the things we use and shifting the context to expose their importance in our world and the expectations we unconsciously bring to objects in our everyday surroundings. Painstakingly carved and assembled objects masquerade as common items of use – towels, shoes, various tools and furniture – and reveal themselves all the more clearly when they can no longer be used for the purposes we normally attach to them. The large tool whose only purpose is to endlessly print “ET CETERA” is a case in point, an apparently useful tool that in fact produces only empty repetition. Guðjón’s art exposes the tenuous relationship between our world of objects and the conceptual world we construct for ourselves. It shows how our lives are determined by our expectations and the things we handle daily without giving a thought to the way a tool always defines the uses we put it to.
Both Guðjón Ketilsson and Guðrún Kristjánsdóttir combine a refined aesthetic with a subtle conceptual approach that addresses both our relationship with our environment and the nature of artistic production itself. Through their art, we can explore and reflect upon the ways in which we read and engage with our world and, at the same time, find surprising new perspectives that allow us to rethink and revaluate them.
-Jón Proppé, philosopher and art critic
Please visit Gudjon Ketilsson's artist page to view more of his images