Hreinn Friðfinnsson: Notions of Time: Safn, Berlin, Germany

20 March - 25 July 2015 

“Time, or notions of time, are always compelling. I read what comes my way about physics and mathematics, but I read as one who’s uninitiated. It’s very difficult to get your mind around these concepts, but it is possible to read about them with fascination. My interest in the essence of time is serious, but my dealing with time is not knowledge-based; it’s more exploratory and feeling-based." (H.F. 2007)


HREINN FRIÐFINNSSON (b. 1943, Dalir, Iceland, lives and works in Amsterdam since 1971) is considered one of Iceland’s leading conceptual artists. His works consist mostly of mundane and familiar everyday objects and materials. In rearranging, combining or transforming these seemingly insignificant materials, Friðfinnsson identifies and activates their conceptual potential. Through minimal interventions he reveals the poetic dimensions within the already existing. 


Friðfinnsson’s art is rooted in his memories and experiences of his homeland, oftentimes echoing aspects of its nature and its lyricism, its legends, rumors, secrets, and dreams. The use of narrative and storytelling is combined with a stark, minimalistic and unobtrusive visual language. Friðfinnsson works within a wide range of media such as photography and text, drawing, painting, installation, and in the last a few years video and film. All works seem to be linked by a common sensibility which leads one to contemplate the possibility of discovering something extraordinary within each work. It is precisely this durational approach to looking, thinking and experiencing with which Friðfinnsson is engaged – time seems to be standing still for just one moment. 


Time can be considered one of the central themes within Friðfinnsson's practice. It seems that his individual approach to, or rather understanding of time is the starting point for many of his undertakings. The artist reflects on subjective and intuitive notions of time within the contexts of physics and astronomy and is not afraid to touch upon the essential questions of life. Hreinn Friðfinnsson experiments with the possibility of parallel constructs of time and intersections between them. In his art works he visualizes time leaps and accelerates or decelerates temporal processes, thus questioning the concept of linearity. 

Friðfinnsson’s works often appear as excerpts from an overarching story line or as little episodes of everyday life. They are characterized by a captivating serenity and intriguing calmness which makes them stand out amid the flood of images that we are confronted with every day. 


In a separate room, Safn Berlin presents works by Swiss artist ROMAN SIGNER (b. 1938, Appenzell, Switzerland, lives and works in St. Gallen). Time, as in process, change, and transformation, is an essential part of Signer’s art works: “I prefer to use the term ‘events’ to characterize my work. Something has happened, and is now simply there, as evidence – evidence of a force that exerted itself in the space. Always in my work something is going to happen, is happening or has happened. Or could happen.” (R.S. 1984) 


Curated by Katharina Wendler.