Icelandic Prints in NYC

Self-Portrait, Magnús Thór Jónsson (Megas) etching

If you’re over in Chelsea visiting the galleries, or the High Line, before June 11th, be sure to stop in the International Print Center New York and catch the show Other Hats:  Icelandic Printmaking.  Featuring the work of 20 printmakers who are either Icelandic, or who have lived long enough in that country to have absorbed the culture, this lovely exhibit showcases a variety of techniques, including screenprints, digital , artist’s books, and etchings.  The show’s title references the fact that many printmakers often have other artistic practices (video, music, sculpture) or have other careers that they exercise in tandem.  Partly that is because Iceland is so small, that there’s no local art market to speak of, as well as the fact that literature is the dominant form of cultural expression. Here are some of my selections:

Self-Portrait, Magnús Thór Jónsson (Megas) etching

Magnús Thór Jónsson (Megas) is known as one of Iceland’s most influential songwriters and provacateurs.  He’s created a series of etched self-portraits, using combinations of inks and the resulting variation in plate tone.

detail from paper Flowers, Rúna Thorkelsdóttir, offset prints

Rúna Thorkelsdóttir’s offset prints of flowers is set up in it’s own corner, where it runs from floor to ceiling, with the occasional framed offset plate print hung on top.

1 Out of 100 Parts, Katrin Suguỗardóttir, paper pulp

New York based artist Katrin Suguỗardóttir’s cast cotton paper relief was created using the molds she used to cast four ceramic tiles for the Icelandic Pavilion in the 2013 Venice Biennale.  I was not surprised to learn that she is primarily a sculptor and installation artist. 

Portrait #3, Birgir Andrésson, Screenprint

In his screenprints Portrait #3, and Portrait #4, Birgir Andrésson, uses text to convey visual imagery; as the sighted child of blind parents, he used words to explain the world to them.  This text, Portrait #3, reads in part:  “He has a flat, fleshy cheek, thick lips, the base of the nose is wide, the mouth rather big and he has small and shapely teeth starting to turn yellow.  Beard he has just on jaws and under the chin, as in the old style, but tufts around the mouth and sometimes some long prickles….”

Everyevergreen, Sara Riel, monoprint using digital prints of drawings and paintings

To create Everyevergreen, Sara Riel transferred digital prints of drawings and paintings to canvas, then added hand coloring.  She chose the conifer, because it “is worshipped at Christmas and [then] forgotten”.  At about 5’ x 5’, this is one of the largest works in the show.

from the “Islands Series”, Per Kirkeby (Denmark), drypoint

Per Kirkeby hails from Denmark.  Poet, writer, filmmaker, sculptor, as well as printmaker, he studied geology before becoming an artist.  This above etching is one of a series of 34 which he created on site using drypoint on zinc.  His fine lines and deep incisions provide depth of expression.

Fellow Travellers, Helgi Thorgils Fridjonssón, etchings with chine collé

A painter as well as one of Iceland’s most prolific printmakers, Helgi  Thorgils Fridjonssón, has many works in this show, in a variety of styles.   In the catalogue he says, “The artistic world I create is some sort of a universe of its own and printmaking is an important part of that world.” 

etching from Los Caprichos, Helgi Thorgils Fridjonssón, etchings

Myself and Goya, from Los Caprichos, Helgi Thorgils Fridjonssón, etchings

There are about two dozen etchings Fridjonssón made based on Los Caprichos, a series of 80 etchings by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya.

Hat, Dieter Roth (German Swiss, Icelandic citizen) hand spray painted and painted photomechanical reproduction of a manipulated postcard

Dieter Roth was a major influence on Icelandic printmaking.  While his series Hat may at first make you think of René Magritte’s paintings, Roth has recast this motif and made it his own by creating twenty unique prints of the same image of a hat, screenprinted over a copy of a postcard of an Icelandic landscape.

Other Hats will be at the International Print Center of NY  508 West 26th Street, Room 5A, only through Saturday, June 10th.  Catch it before it closes.

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