Tolli Art Exhibition

An exhibition showcasing new works by Icelandic artist Tolli Morthens will open at the Embassy on 23 November 2012. 

Tolli was born in Reykjavik in 1953 and graduated from the Icelandic School of Art and Hochschule für bildende Künste in Berlin. With his primary base in Iceland, he has held numerous exhibitions both there and abroad. 

Viewings are available during Embassy opening hours, Monday - Friday between 09:00-16:30, upon prior bookings only on tel. 0207 259 3999 or e-mail


Litríkur morgunn, 60 x 60, oil on canvas, 2012

From Tolli, the artist:

I came into art indirectly; it was a way out of a troubled and turbulent youth spent chasing a fast buck, as an itinerant worker in sundry coastal villages of Iceland. Finally, in the early 1980s, I realised that art could be my salvation: an entrance ticket into ‘normal’ society. As a youngster I had drawn and painted intermittedly, and on the strength of that I applied for the local art school and to my surprise I was accepted.
Probably due to my background, I was always attracted by the rebellious aspect of art. And so, when ‘new expressionism’ came around, it immediately appealed to me. Thus, my first paintings and drawings were characterised by raw and furious brushwork and down to earth subject matter, centering on the precarious existence of the kind of people I had worked with in my green youth.
In Berlin in the mid 1980s, studying with Karl Horst Hödicke, my paintings became more overtly political. At the same time I realised that I couldn’t go on regurgitating styles and subject matter that I didn’t feel deep in my bones, so to say. In my solitude in Germany I found myself thinking more and more about the Icelandic landscape, how essential it is for the understanding of Iceland and the cultural life of its inhabitants. Back in Iceland, I began not only to paint landscape, but to travel to the most remote parts of the country and climb mountains.
In the present century landscape has become my chief subject matter. I don’t necessarily paint recognisable motifs, but prefer to translate the landscape I carry around in my head into archetypal imagery that expresses my feelings about its beautiful, as well as its terrifying aspect. In the final analysis, I look upon my landscape painting as a spiritual quest.
Tolli Morthens



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