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Listasafn Reykjavíkur / Reykjavik Art Museum

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Decade

Ásmundur Sveinsson

Trúarbrögðin

Year
1956
Height
143 cm
Width
114 cm
Category
Skúlptúr
Sub-category
Blönduð tækni

Religions, made in Reykjavík in 1956, is a sculpture of iron, wood and copper. It was enlarged in 1977 and installed on Valhúsahæð hill in Seltjarnarnes, a suburb of Reykjavík. Interviewed by editor Matthías Johannessen Bókin um Ásmund the artist explained the work: “I’m trying to link present and past in a single piece... the religion of our forefathers and Christian attitudes... I’ll tell you how it came about. When the Norwegian art exhibition opened here, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Halvard Lange made a speech, in which he said: ‘It wasn’t men who found Reykjavík, but the image.’ And that struck me! I’d never thought of it, although it’s in all the Icelandic history textbooks. It was an image, the carved high-seat pillars, which Ingólfur flung overboard from his ship, which first came ashore here in Reykjavík. When I started thinking about it, it took a stronger and stronger hold on me, so I could think of nothing else. I was captivated by the religious conviction behind the action. And when I went into the matter I found that our forefathers’ beliefs were steadfast, true and invincible. It’s not a small matter to choose a place to live, and it was no small confidence that the gods were shown, by leaving it to them to choose a place to settle in a new land. And that idea has nagged at me. It might be nice to get it into the material. But, to tell the truth, I’d meant to leave Christianity out altogether and compose something about pagan religion alone. Then last autumn I showed a sketch of the piece to a pastor here in Reykjavík, and he said: ‘Can’t you get Christianity in as well, by putting the cross in?’ I thought about it for a bit, then asked, ‘Can I make the cross abstract?’ ‘Yes, yes, of course,’ he replied. So that’s what I did.”

Other works by artist