Galerie Nordenhake is pleased to present an exhibition with new works and elaborations of previous projects by conceptual artist Hreinn Friðfinnsson. The artists gained prominence as a leading figure on the Icelandic avant-garde after co-founding the artist group SUM in 1965. A major retrospective of Friðfinnsson’s work, documenting his ongoing influence for a younger generation of artists, was on view at the Serpentine Gallery in London and the Reykjavik Art Museum in 2007 and is currently travelling to other Scandinavian institutions.
Friðfinnsson’s art is rooted in his memories and experiences of his native Iceland and its contrasting landscapes. At times, he echoes the lyricism of a wandering bard, recounting legends, rumors, secrets, and dreams, sometimes telling a story, other times describing a place or an event. All these aspects are embodied by his new photographic series Second House. The images are a documentation of a further development of his House Project from 1974, an installation inspired by the tale of an eccentric Icelander who built a house inside out. Wallpaper, framed pictures and curtains were all mounted on the exterior of the building. Friðfinnsson developed it into a poetic attempt to contain the whole world in an object and built a reversed house on a lava field outside of Reykjavik. He documented the process with the intention that the resulting photographs should be the art piece, not the house itself. For Second House, which has been recently built in the park of Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Friðfinnsson turned the original house back into a ‘normal’ one, a sculptural intervention accessible only through the gaze. From the windows the viewer can see three photographs of the Icelandic house and a metal model of the house, now reduced to a three-dimensional drawing. The model has no walls, no more inside and outside, denying in this way any reference to a specific time or space. It floats in the otherwise empty space leaning on a meteorite, an extraterrestrial material without any kind of cultural reference or background. This object contains its past, the immanency of its present and the potentiality of its future.
For Light, Shadow and Dust (1994), is also a further elaboration of a previous project. The work is composed of a series of nine glass shelves, to which gold leaf has been applied. Its reflective surfaces showcase the subtle dynamics of natural phenomena over time. Alongside this work Friðfinnsson presents Paris March 2008, a collection of black and white snap-shots from Paris, depicting some of its most stereotyped spots, equally affirming and transcending the notion of the ‘touristic gaze’. A balance between the everyday and the magical occurs, for example, in Untitled (2008), a holographic installation representing a Roman amphora held by a woman. From a frontal perspective the object seems standing still, but when the viewer moves along, he starts noticing how the two hands move the vase to pour water out of it. In this case holography’s potential to show multiple sides and angles of an object allows the artist to give the illusion of a minimal action and its time. The diversity of media, which Friðfinnsson utilizes, consistently reflects the artist's complex visual language, each work imbued with simultaneous instances of humour and wonder.
Born in 1943 in Baer Dölum, Iceland, Hreinn Friðfinnsson has been living in Amsterdam since 1971. He has had solo exhibitions at: Malmö Konsthall (2008); Reykjavik Art Museum and Serpentine Gallery, London (both 2007); Domaine de Kerguehennec, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Bignan, and Kyoto Art Center (both 2002). In 1993 he exhibited at the National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik (1993) and represented Iceland at the 45th Venice Biennale. His work has also been featured in group shows including Material Time/ Work Time/ Life Time, Reykjavik Arts Festival (2005), Eblouissement, Jeau de Paume, Paris (2004), Norden, Kunsthalle Wien, the Carnegie Art Award, (both 2000), Sleeping Beauty–Art Now, Scandinavia Today, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1983). In 2000, the artist was the recipient of the prestigious Ars Fennica prize. Hreinn Friðfinnsson has been exhibiting with Galerie Nordenhake since 1989.