Gabríela Friðriksdóttir (IS)
Three Paintings (2020)
Exhibition room: Hvelfing
The East Window
Where everything begins, again and again
Acrylic paint & ink on canvas. 170cmx140cm.
GF: “The sunrise, the beginning, and the sun, the break of day, everything begins, again and again ... rhythmically with each heartbeat, with each new person. A new beginning but an old story, the story of Man, the story of the animal, the story of plants, the story of a story. Always something new in the old. A church window facing East, or just a window in a house or in the mind. Sets that circle around symbols, signs of what was, will be, and is becoming... or disappearing?
The painting is a window, out and in, it breathes. It’s dusk in the East Window as the sun sets and contemplates in the West, never sleeping and constantly making up stories and ticking, as the rhythm of the rosary rays overcasts everything with new music, shadows are born and underneath, dreams and nightmares are brewing, but then the East sees a new birth of images and colourful experiences, born from pain, pleasure, suffering, happiness and, also, from the void in a humble way, like the palm tree and the ancestor of all life, the mushroom.”
Time Machine (2020)
Acrylic paint & ink on canvas 140cmx170cm
GF: “Time, so terribly wonderful, is eroded and deconstructed. Time to enjoy, love, and live and time to suffer and die... Clockwise and forward, counter-clockwise and back to the memories, old times? A new time while everything is still present. The time machine in the painting is an old wooden construction with a shadow pendulum and black hat; this is the cat of many lives, with the sun and the moon on each side. The day is shrouded in the ticks and rhythm of the sun, and the night of the moon produces the rosaries or staffs that pull the wave while the fire burns backstage. The dust flies of memories gather and swirl around the wooden construction, nibbling on the wood, and producing memories from the resin. Below is the plump bottom of the time island, which has assumed the shape of an upside-down toadstool, worn bottom gnawed on by hairy worms, time worms digging tunnels to the beginning and shifting their shape so everything can be born again and take on new forms.”
The North (2020)
Acrylic paint & ink on canvas. 170cmx140cm.
GF: “It is a mist, fog or cold cloud that has materialised as a white-furred creature with pink claws. It’s as if the creature is part of the mountains while simultaneously gliding towards those who look at it. At the bottom of the creature’s fur, some kind of feathers have formed and it’s as if it’s floating, ground fog in the form of an owl or snowman. It has rained and the rocks are black, these are creatures, a couple of wolves? Man is utterly vulnerable when faced with nature, the nature of the North is cold and awe-inspiring. The fog hides many things and the small human heart reacts by turning fear into images. This is the moment when the human being stands paralysed with cold and fear of the ferocious, inscrutable nature and when the fog is blinding and the rocks are howling, images from the depths of the souls appear and stabilise the fear.
The creature holds the wolves at bay, pauses for a moment, and alleviates the threat, even becomes friendly for a moment while the wolves are tied and before everything is unleashed again.”
Working between video, sculpture, drawing, performance, painting, and writing, she has created one of the most unique bodies of work in Icelandic contemporary art. In Gabríela Friðriksdóttir’s world, it is impossible to separate any one element from the others – the simplest sketch could be the starting point for a technically elaborate, beautifully shot film; a fragment of writing could be elaborated into a cycle of performances, and a story briefly hinted at in one piece could become an entire installation later on. She blurs the lines between the occult and natural worlds to create dream-like environments for viewers to explore and find connections within. She creates fictional cosmologies rooted in her country’s isolating, melancholic landscape, where stories of creation come together with surrealism, horror films, and even heavy metal. Her work is intense and disturbing, but it is also punctuated by moments of real warmth and humour. Over the past decade, her work has been shown all over the world. In 2005 she represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale; she has also shown at Migros Museum, Zurich; Prospectif Cinema at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; National Gallery, Reykjavik; Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; Kunsthaus, Graz; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt and at the Biennale de Lyon, 2014. She lives and works in Reykjavik, Iceland.