Ingunn Fjóla Ingþórsdóttir and Þórdís Jóhannesdóttir have exhibited together as the collective Hugsteypan, and separately, for the last decade. In their collaborative works they have developed an approach that seductively melds painting, photography and sculptural installation in works of remarkable clarity and depth. The painterly elements are striking: Dense fields of color – sometimes flat but often dripped on the surface to bring out the three dimensional qualities of the paint – then arranged into structures and photographed to create trompe-l’œil compositions that seem as straightforward as a color-field painting but have the real-life impact of photography. This manipulation of our visual experience and the expectations we have of the different media and methods used is carefully honed to open up our senses and set us thinking about how we parse our visual environment. One seminal exhibition in 2012 was titled “Staged Paintings” – an apt but characteristically modest explanation of their aesthetic.
Their first exhibition at BERG Contemporary – together but not showing collaborative works – allows us to pick apart the elements of this aesthetic and the contribution of each artist in their collaborations, while also showing us how each of them has developed their thinking in their chosen medium.
Ingunn Fjóla has long explored the sculptural potential of color, creating environments where colored sheets enclose spaces for the audience to pass through – meditative spaces where it almost seems as though the colors themselves have taken on three dimensional form. Here she takes a further step towards the sculptural by extruding her paints into three dimensions and using various materials as a base to merge the color and material with often startling results. These assemblages resemble the works of Arte Povera in that they combine everyday materials but Ingunn Fjóla’s emphasis on bright, solid colors is more in line with modernist abstraction or the Nordic pop art of the 1960s and 1970s. There is thus a cheerfully nostalgic element to her sculptures that is, however, undermined by “imperfections” and signs of decay with unexpected folds, tangles and tears belying the apparent solidity of the materials.
Þórdís, on the other hand, exhibits photographs of colored surfaces – reminiscent of the geometric abstractions of the Paris School – but are in fact details of work by other artists. Having mounted these photographs she then creases and bends them to extend them into space. The transformation is quite subtle as the bends follow lines already in the image, as though these three dimensional extrusions were somehow caused by the geometry of the image –as though the picture was somehow taking on a shape like a fairy-tale drawing coming to life. By taking on shape, the photographs also extend into the realm of light and shadow. The way they catch the light then also reflect or replicate the light and shadows already captured in the photograph. This interplay of image and physical properties have been a characteristic feature of the work produced by Þórdís but here we see her using it in a more direct way to focus of the photographic image itself. Rather than making the photographic image be the final documentation of the construction – it is now only one step in a transformation that sees the distinction between image and space collapse.
In both cases, these works show forth their unassuming transgression of the boundaries between dimensions, media and modes of representation. The results can change the way we see the world.
3.11 – 22.12.2017
18.8 – 21.10.2017
11.5 – 4.8.2017
11.3 – 29.4.2017
14.1 – 25.2.2017
28.10 – 10.12.2016
2.9 – 22.10.2016
15.7 – 13.8.2016
21.5 – 2.7.2016
18.3 – 7.5.2016