Kristjàn Gudmundsson, installation shot, 2002.
Berlin, April 27, 2002 - May 28, 2002
The sculptures and drawings by Kristján Gudmundsson are based upon conceptual and minimalist traditions, at the same time as they are strongly attached to the important narrative tradition of Iceland. The materials refer to the medium and in a subtle and often low-key humorous way his works concretely consist of materials connected with reading or drawing - graphite, rolls of paper and ink. There is often a close link to icelandic literature - natural for the Icelandic with their strong tradition of the Sagas-and Kristján Gudmundsson has also made several artists' books. In the first one, Periods (1972) he randomly chose three periods from a collection with poems by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, blew them up 1500 times and had them printed throughout the book. It is a poetic gesture that shows the importance of the pause when reading, but it also points to the minimal concept of negative space around the letters in a text in the same way as a sculptor installs a work in a room by balancing the space in between. Not surprisingly the artist mentions Lucio Fontana and Donald Judd as two artists whose underlying concepts have been influential.
At Galerie Nordenhake Kristján Gudmundsson is showing a new group of work called Etchings. Based on Rives papers, the Etchings consist of formations of paper, mounted behind glass on the walls. On some of the sheets of papers L-shaped brackets are printed in black or red. By positioning the "Ls" in two of the corners of a sheet and juxtaposing two or several of these sheets, he creates a charged zone. What we see is either a plain sheet of paper under glass, a sheet with red or black brackets, or the empty space in between the formations of Rives papers and glass. However, the space delineated by the brackets forms a territory of emptiness-curiously charged emptiness as compared to the blank papers or the empty wall. The reasons for using black and primary red is that they are perfectly neutral colours and that they do not require an active choice from the artist of what colour to pick.
There is a clear logic continuity throughout his works; from the first "drawings", Supersonic Drawings (1972), the trace and powder stain from a rifle bullet that has just touched the paper; to Black Hole (1993), a roll of carbon paper which evokes a sense of the black holes of space, engulfing everything without emitting anything, to the recent Etchings (2001), which show nothing but the gesture of implicating the world around them.
It is a very personal conceptual art that respectfully communicates with the observer and, like a poem, leaves space for reflections.
Kristján Gudmundsson is born in Snæfellsnes, Iceland in 1941. He lives and works in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Kristján Gudmundsson installing the exhibition