Monday, December 27, 2010


2004 IN MEMORIAM Listasafn Reykjanesbæjar

Due to her unfashionably strong artistic convictions, painter Margrét Jónsdóttir has been at odds with prevailing trends in Icelandic art for most of her creative life. In expressing those convictions she has frequently gone to the edge of the inexpressible, heedless of her reputation or the expectations of her public, imbued only with fearless integrity
The works on paper that she is exhibiting here in Reykjanesbær exemplify her unusual, often wayward, way of thinking, teeming as they are with references to existential and cultural matters.
At first glance these works seem to be straightforward extensions of ordinary wallpaper patterns, full of stylized versions of branches, leaves and flowers.
They seem to have no obvious beginning, centre or end, and are painted with hot and strident colours that make our eyes ache. Others painted with dark and dull colours that obliterate the outlines of the patterns or dissolve them entirely.
We guessed right; the patterns in these works are mostly created using French wallpaper stencils. By using them the artist wants to remind us of the essential difference between serious creative work, leading to art capable of deepening our understanding of man and the world, and the ubiquitous and soulless manufacture of visual imagery geared only to market forces.
While constructing her work out of the latter, the artist is actively undermining it by transferring, as it were, the oft-repeated patterns back to their origins in the natural world, where they are at the mercy of natural selection and destruction, in other words, the ravages of time. The paintings feature the steady and inexorable erosion and rebirth of nature. The stylized patterns, nature´s substitutes, either disintegrate from within or fall prey to outside forces of destruction. In the end only a handful of areas remain unscathed, like memorials to long gone beauty spots. Regret is clearly one of the ingredients of these works.
The featured contrasts between nature and the destructive forces at its heart may also be seen as references to other supposedly antithetic elements. In spite of their humble look, the French wallpaper patterns used by the artist are clearly cultural constructs, representatives of a particular decorative tradition. Against these cultural constructs the artist pits elements of raw nature, perhaps the unforgiving nature of the harsh Suðurnes peninsula where she lives. In doing so she is not expressing a preference of one over the other, but emphasizing the importance of a balanced world view.
Adalsteinn Ingolfsson