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Reaykjavik Museum of Art

Iceland | 2011



Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir


Excerpt from the article Objects to unobjects, published in Perspectives. On the boarders of art and philosophy, Reykjavik Art Museum, 2011.


Guðrún Kristjánsdóttir is preoccupied with the effects of weather on the formation of the landscape. The snow patches that characterize her paintings refer to the transformation that occurs in the spring thaws when the winter snows begin to fall from the mountain slopes. The snow cover retreats and leaves behind patches in the clefts and gullies in the cliffs and slopes, as the melted snow collects in the channels and leaves a trace. In her older works one sees horizons defined by mountain ranges, but with time her focus has continually narrowed. Mountain slopes and close-up views of the white patches that remain on the slopes with the arrival of the thaws are her true subjects. Retreating snow is the sign of warming and melting as the frost leaves the ground, and is thus a sign of transition. Guðrún's paintings are physical and static, and yet she cannot resist giving them the appearance of instability and change by playing with transparent paints that transmit light. The light easily changes the color of the underlying surface of the works, and one may therefore say that the changeable weather has taken control of the paintings.

Each new work is a continuation of the previous work, but the use of cameras and camcorders have worked to narrow Guðrún's focus. The photographs or parts of them can serve as prototypes for paintings, and a painting for a photograph that is then scanned into a computer where it is broken down and changed into a moving picture. One picture disappears into another, although the patches that tie the works together persist. Guðrún's paintings thus acquire a second life beyond the canvas, in videos and movies, and as photographs, graphics, and wall and window paintings. The subject-matter calls for a multi-faceted realization, since computer processing and video recording make it possible to capture real movement and portray process.

Weather Song is a work that has been exhibited in several versions, being plastic and easy to adapt to each exhibition space. The projector is at the center of the installation and displays light patches passing by like scenery seen through the window of a moving car. The video challenges the stability of the painting and pushes it into motion. The time frame of the picture is rather short but it does not show real change but rather the horizontal movement of forms on the wall that travel back and forth from one corner to another. The picture is in black and white, but the white color is based upon snow forms that appear as rays of light on a black background. The Icelandic title of this work, Veðurlag, involves a play on words that refers both to layers of snow and the method of painting in layers.** Hróðmar Ingi Sigurbjörnsson has composed music for this work, based upon old poetic tunes (stemmur), to which Steindór Andersen chants with ballad verses (rímur). The music, the verses and the motion refer to the journey of someone who sets off on a walk across the country, humming to himself to kill time. Opposite the projection is another wall with a painted mountainside over which passes the same pattern of light that is seen in the projection; this moving pattern is reflected onto the wall painting by a glass mounted on the projection wall. The work is layered in time, space and form, and the painting has become an environment in motion, with the viewer at its center. The connection of man and nature with the cycle of life is the core of the content of this work.


Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir

** The word "lag", in Icelandic can mean either a song or a layer.