Baer – Some other interesting artists

Since I’ve been here I’ve been introduced to the works of some interesting Icelandic artists. Many of whom draw on nature as an inspiration – especially water.

I find it both interesting and challenging to find a way to work with found materials and the landscape that isn’t trite, sentimental, or didactic. A way that allows for spontaneity, openness, and multiple interpretation. I sometimes look to other artists to guide me (both by their good and bad examples).

I didn’t know of any Icelandic artists till I arrived here – shame on me. The closest I came was (New York born and raised) Roni Horn who has worked extensively here and is perhaps most famous for her On Place series of monographs begun in Iceland in 1982. Iceland has become her lasting muse. Her Library of Water at Stykkisholmur is definitely on my agenda.

Some of the artists whose work I’ve found engaging or enlightening since coming here have been  (click on their names to go to their websites) –


Her Archive of Endangered Water which is currently installed at the National Gallery of Iceland in Reykjavik was Iceland’s entry to the Venice Biennale in 2003. It’s right up my alley in the way it encourages user interaction and then presents a strong physical experience of the landscape to the viewer, captured through digital means. I wish you had to don gumboots and a rain jacket a la Niagara Falls to enter the space.

Archive of Endangered Water – 2003

Finnbogi Petursson

Another lover of water. Friends in Rekjavik mentioned Finnbogi to me when I told them I was interested in wiring up the landscape and recording its resonances during my residency (more on that later). I like the way he uses electronic means to engage the physical.

Sphere – 2003

Sigtryggur Bjarni Baldvinsson

He has been at Baer and with his great love of streams and the ocean I’m not surprised. He’s the first artist I’ve encountered  who has visually deconstructed water and its movements in a way similar to what I’m doing in my digital prints – but he uses the much more painstaking process of oil painting to achieve his ends. In one catalog of his work the essay refers to his love of fishing and describes the oil paints all lined up as being akin to fishing flies and the act of painting as being a way to catch the river.

Langá River No. 3 – 2008

Ragna Róbertsdóttir

Ragna actually schlepps loads of pumice from the edges of Hekla and other Icelandic volcanoes into the gallery which she then adheres both gesturally and painstakingly directly to the wall or traps within sheets of glass like an ant farm. One installation of black pumice in the huge plate glass window of the Reykjavik Art Museum heated up so much during the day that it smashed the glass window threatening to hail volcanic detritus down on innocent passers by – a man-made eruption. Her work connects to minimalist sculpture but is enlivened and empowered by the raw energy of the materials that she uses.

Lava from Hekla – 2002


  1. David Trubridge July 17, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Truly amazing work in all their closeness to the land. i met finnbogi in 2005 – he showed me round his water tanks elements installation which i still remember vividly. the air/fire one took off and did stuff on its own and it took him a while to stop fighting it – to stop sticking to his vision and trying to impose his will – before he realised there was something amazing and quite different happening that he had to go with. such are the lessons of nature and art!


    1. David. I’d like to meet Finnbogi. I’m impressed with the curiosity and diversity of his work. Thanks for the reminder about letting things take their course. In the tight time frame we have here at Baer its hard not to start limiting the work or falling back on familiar strategies. Keeping the door open at all times is quite a challenge!


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