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Listasafn Reykjavíkur / Reykjavik Art Museum

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Jóhannes S. Kjarval

Á Hulduströnd

46 cm
60 cm

Elves or “hidden people” appear early on in Kjarval's work. In his first pieces the hidden people travelled in groups and lived in rocks. In the middle of the 1930s Kjarval started connecting them with the ocean and ships and thus created two of his most common symbols, hidden beings and ships. The piece On a Hidden Shore is an example of this. Kjarval leads his audience into an ethereal and mystical world where nothing is as it seems. The structure of the painting rests on enigmatic forms seen so often in Kjarval's imagery: the cliff behind the woman in the foreground is also a human profile, whose lips meet those of another human profile in a kiss. White light and a complex spectrum of tones amplify the mystical, elevated mood. The title of the painting is an allusion to Icelandic folklore about hidden people and supernatural beings, who live alongside humans. In folk tradition the boundaries between concrete, tangible reality and the hidden realms are often fluid, and the same is true of the works of Kjarval.

Other works by artist