Some years ago, Icelandic artists would have been a category unfamiliar to the American art public. It would have seemed a category without discernible unity or order, thus devoid of the kind of meaning that would allow itself to be turned into myth. By connecting all the dots we have the beginnings of a myth centering on a society precariously poised between the civilized and savage, urban and rural, self-deprecation (How do you like Iceland?) and dreams of world domination.
Typically, the Icelandic artists included in this survey both conform to this myth and render it meaningless. All of them have close ties to the countryside; they use it as a refuge or incorporate its features and legends into their art, both of which is true of Gudbjorg Lind, Gudrun Kristjansdottir and Niels Hafstein. At the same time they are ready to fly to New York, Paris or Beijing at a moments notice. Their approach to their work may be firmly centered on the physicality of the body, as is the case with Gudny Kristmanns, or it may be predicated on the dissolution of materiality, which is the kind of thing we find in the work of Gustav Geir Bollason. Or they may take up a position midway between sense and big time sensuality, as happens in the highly literate and knowing work of Jon Laxdal and Thordis Alda.
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