By Eva Stenskär
If you’re in New York, you will want to check out the exhibition “Evoking Iceland” at More North Gallery in Tribeca. Hjörtur Hjartarsson, the Icelandic artist behind the show, is not only evoking his country, but a bit of Claude Monet as well.
“In Iceland we have long sunsets, you see the sun and its long, red beams at the horizon and it’s great. I also like the wetness in all things living, that liquid quality. And I do like Monet, I think you can see that in my paintings,” he says.
Nature and the elements form the most important source of inspiration for Hjartarsson, but it’s an age-old inspiration, one he doesn’t have to call on much these days.
“I was brought up with art and art works, my mother was a porcelain painter and my father, who was a sailor, was also an art collector. And I began painting very early on, and was trained at a very early age. As a young boy I looked at everything—water, stones, how these things are, the moss, how thing work. It’s taken me a lifetime to get myself tied to nature. Nature is not afraid of anything, neither heat nor cold— it just responds. Now I have the technique, now I can just paint, now I can respond just like nature.”
Hjartarsson lives and paints anywhere, saying he doesn’t need much space. This year has seen him in Norway and Denmark, where he toured the landscape on a motorbike while photographing; he has also lived in New York.
“I had a studio in Queens, overlooking the river and Manhattan. There’s a lot of nature in New York, there’s a lot of dead material too, of course. But I was here in January, and I liked how the snow came and struck people and nature. I painted that.”
The surfaces are clean with colors blending and leaking into each other. Heavily textural works, Hjartarsson’s art is laden with precipitation. Each piece is composed of layers and layers of paint and glaze. The landscapes possess an enchanting quality of organic decomposition. Both larger and smaller canvases are exhibited.
"Evoking Iceland" can be seen at More North Gallery until December 6.
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