Location: Ásmundarsafn sculpture garden.
Ásmundur made Hell Ride in Reykjavík in 1944. It was originally made in plaster of Paris, and later in wood. It was enlarged in concrete in 1965.
The sculpture is at once complex and monumental by comparison with the artist's previous pieces, and yet constructed with great
internal consistency: the horse’s head and the man lean symmetrically to opposite sides, in addition to which the horse's forefeet merge perfectly into its neck. Man and horse appear to be integrated into one in the simplicity of the sculpture, and this lends the piece a powerful identity.
Unlike his previous works, in this piece the viewer senses dynamism and outward expression: the horse tosses its mane with gaping jaws, while the ghostly rider raises his arm, open-mouthed and wild-eyed. Ásmundur commented on the sculpture in a conversation with editor Matthías Johannessen in Bókin um Ásmund: “This is the ghost from Hel [Hell, and the goddess of the Underworld, in Norse mythology], the warrior god. And of course he rides a horse from Hel. When I first made the first sketches of Hell Ride, I had in mind the folktale of the Deacon of Myrká [a ghostly tale of a dead deacon returning to try to drag his sweetheart down into the grave with him]. But then I felt I had to leave the girl out, and it became the Hell Ride from the Poetic Edda. Everything belongs to Hel. Everything is consecrated to death: flowers, earth, humans. Death has to be terrifying. We are branded with its mark. It flows over everything, spares nothing. Hell Ride was made during the war years, when people were being slaughtered like beasts. Many were trampled under the gigantic hooves of the monster.”