Icelandic nature has been the main focus of Icelandic art since the eve of modern art and this is still true today in spite of strong international influence. Its enormous power and magical quality makes it a constant inspiration and source of ideas for artists regardless of the media they work in and their diverse results. This has also been the case throughout Guðrún Einarsdóttir’s painting.
Iceland is a harsh, severe, and bare, country, hiding nothing from the observer. Most other countries are covered by vegetation that blurs details and outlines. We are therefore extremely aware of the ever-changing surface of the land, prey to all weather, winds and natural forces. The formal aspect of the landscape’s endless open spaces, (the water in its dramatic transformations, the ground with tactile qualities, infinite depths, and variety of colours), is a continuous visual stimulation that has provided Guðrún Einarsdóttir with a stream of ideas. She either adopts a bird’s eye view of the unending stretches of lava fields and deserts, vast mountains and glaciers, or she imitates the snail and burrows into grassy knolls, earth, and sand.
At first sight Guðrún Einarsdóttir´s paintings seem to be flat and monochrome–almost minimal in appearance and expression. Further scrutiny, however, reveals incessant movement, irregular forms, and a variety of colours. We sense how she takes on this extraordinary land–as it is merged, in the end, with her strong emotions and visual experience, conscious or subconscious, and the creative force itself. We feel how these strong emotions and experiences penetrate the surface of her paintings, built up as they are in multiple layers that force their way upward. Thus, the surface becomes massive and tactile not because she opens it up, but rather because it is physically thrust upward in the way charged energy forces its way out of a hot spring or a volcano. The result is a strong three-dimensional impression of a relief rather than a painting on canvas.
The series of paintings shown in this exhibition illustrate the most important characteristics of Guðrún Einarsdótti’s works: rich, tactile qualities and infinite depth of colour. She becomes part of nature and the works become part of her. Thus, her paintings appeal to many senses. We want to touch, smell and even absorb them.
Guðrún Einarsdóttir´s works are extremely personal. They are memories and conceptualizations of nature—so simplified that only the essence remains. They are transformations of the land, its inner power, constant diversity, and magic. One might call this transformation, from concept and direct visual experience to a new reality in a two-dimensional form, a transfer of emotional and physical energy. It gives her works an unusual depth and resonance and makes them physically very present. Fundamentally they are, however, about the struggle of survival where nature becomes a metaphor for the serious ecological and environmental problems facing us today. This adds a social and political dimension to her works that further strengthens their inner value.
Guðrún Einarsdóttir works within the very narrow confines of oil painting that is both difficult and dangerous. Because of her sensitivity, perseverance, and limitless determination, she is nevertheless able to transfer new energy and dimension into this charged medium. These changes are not always immediately visible but become obvious when we look at her oeuvre over a longer period. In this sense,“time” can be seen as an important element in her work – both the time span between her works and also the time span of her experience of nature. Her works can therefore be seen as a continuous evolution, although each lives a very independent life.
- Bera Nordal, 2003