Kristinn G. Harðarson in his studio.
KRISTINN GUÐBRANDUR HARÐARSON
Kristinn Guðbrandur Harðarson (b. 1955) has been selected as the biennial’s honorary artist, and has been active in the Icelandic art scene for decades. In his works a personal and poetic processing of the artist's close environment is positioned within various mediums including texts, embroidery, sculpture, wall mural, cartoons and performances. Kristinn’s solo exhibition will be presented at Ásmundarsalur, and an artist book introduced at the same time will serve as its own independent exhibition space.
Heimurinn á fleygiferð, 2017. Wallpainting. (exhibition Listaverkasalan, Reykjavík)
Útsaumur, 1987-88. Embroidery and colour.
Untitled, 1993-97. Oil on canvas.
Some concrete steps were being made up to the front door of the house. The gravel was brought in by tractor and the concrete was stirred in a cement mixer. The elder boy on the farm - he might be seven years old - readily helped, holding the wheelbarrow and the wheel of the mixer. When the job was finished, someone left a screwdriver stuck in the fencepost.
THE STAKE AND THE MAP*
H.K. Rannversson writes about Kristinn G. Harðarson
Kristinn G. Harðarson is a traveller who walks the path between life and art. From the beginning of his career he has positioned himself and his art just to the side of the Icelandic art scene, dedicated to the viewer’s perspective, in order to gain distance from the things that surround him. At the same time, the everyday has merged with Kristinn’s work and the separation between the two has become vague. Blurry. Like when hiking just outside of the city in fog and the city blends in with nature. It comes as no surprise that the artist’s work has not gone far or graced the covers of newspapers, because there is nothing here for the sensationalism of the art world. On the other hand Kristinn has been active in the Icelandic art scene for decades; he has taught and curated, is a founding member of the Living Art Museum in 1978 and one of the initiators of Gallerí Suðurgata 7, where his first solo exhibition took place the following year. Kristinn has not attempted to adhere to fads, but rather hold to his own stroke. And although it is possible to view the beginning of his career, towards the end of the seventies, in the context of Neo Expressionism in Iceland, his works have revolved around the conceptual rather than painterly embodiment of art. As an artist he has allowed each work to determine its own resolution and has applied different methods in his artistic practice, whether in the form of drawing, cartoons, sculpture, painting, film, photograph or performances. The form, in other words, is chosen with what the work has in mind:
ladder (in motion)
mountain belt (watercolour)*
Kristinn has often chosen the book as a space for his work and published multiple bookworks in his career, which have taken on the form of diaries or comic strips, among other things. If it is possible to find a red thread (red stakes) in his process, it would focus upon text in the visual works; the relationship of the text with the images. For a long time Kristinn has scribbled and written down things that have attracted his attention in his immediate environment, whether from nature, the city or in a newspaper on the kitchen table. These snapshots and text clips go unedited through the mind of the artist and onto paper, a bit like the scribbles that come to mind when talking with a good friend on the phone. Here one is not thinking about artistic value, but rather a personal and artistic process, perhaps a poetic processing of the everyday. The book is an optimal medium and form in this context, it is a space where the real and fictional run together. At the exhibition in Ásmundarsalur the book Dauðabani is added to the artist’s work. Here Kristinn has systematically worked through large quantities of everyday clips and scraps, and thought about options for incorporating and separating image and text. The book is similar to the first old-fashioned livre d’artiste, a type of illustrated poetry book that poets and artists worked on together, where illustration accompanied text. In Kristinn’s book there is interaction between these two components, which may not be strange considering that it is created by one and the same man. Therefore the images sometimes come before the texts and become an explanation. Elsewhere the text is first and then there is a diagram. More often than not this happens simultaneously in the mind of the artist and if he makes a change to the image (pepp up the red color!), the text requires editing also. And vice versa. Now, one could wonder if it is not some sort of misunderstanding on Kristinn’s behalf to publish a book at a festival that emphasizes time-based media and work that is in real-time? Then citing the repeated sentence of the book: What is going on? In the mid-1970s, when Kristinn was studying at the School of Art and Crafts, Ulises Carrión from Amsterdam wrote: “A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment – a book is also a sequence of moments.” Could Kristinn have read Carrión's text during his studies in the Netherlands a few years later? It is not unlikely, because during the exhibition the book is in fact an independent exhibition space that can be penetrated by reading, both image and text reading, walking in Kristinn ́s footsteps. The book is a "space-time sequence." During the exhibition text and image escape from the area of the book and out into the exhibition space at Ásmundarsalur, merge and take on the form of paintings worked directly onto the walls of the room, accompanied by various-sized drawings and computer prints on paper. Here Kristinn has reworked the works found in the books in a new way, changed the shape of the images and sometimes shortened the text. At the same time they are in conversation with some older works and exhibitions by the artist worth mentioning. The works are reminiscent of paintings Kristinn worked with earlier in his career, in the beginning of 1980, where texts and images from the media where placed together. The exhibition as a whole can be seen as an extension of the exhibition Shelter (Skjól), which Kristinn held ten years ago in Kubburinn, Iceland University of the Arts’ exhibition space, and was realized in collaboration with the school and students in Art Theory at the University of Iceland. There were works that were developed from the artist’s sketches, where Kristinn considered the context of the text and image in the form of the logo. Here the works are some kind of code that point in an unclear direction, but all begin in the individual mindset of the artist. At the ninth Sequences festival viewers will be able to look at their surroundings from the same perspective as Kristinn G. Harðarson for a moment, or indefinitely depending on whether or not they take the book from the exhibition with them. It is this panorama over life and art that makes him a favourite of many artists, an “artists’ artist”: The one who can be trusted to come as a surprise, however paradoxical that may sound. In Kristinn’s art this makes sense though, because the works are created in the space that lies between the objects; between text and image. Between life and art.