In the early 1980s Karólína Lárusdóttir started making large paintings of people based on her childhood memories of Reykjavík in the early 1950s and her family's collection of photographs. She had been living in Britain for years and become familiar with both the British portrait tradition and the Italian Renaissance style.
The paintings invariably depict groups of family or friends in specific conditions, often while travelling or picnicking in Þingvellir National Park, which Karólína's family would visit regularly in summertime. A strong characteristic of these group pictures is a marked lack of interaction between the people; each person is in a world of their own, cut off from the others. The people avoid eye contact, sitting or standing and looking each in their own direction, often with their mouth clenched shut.
This piece is one of Karólína's many variations on this theme from the early 1980s. Here people are divided into two “groups”, a man and woman in the foreground to the left who have at some point been united, and a motley group in the middle. Though the painting is characterised by a relative coherence of colour between the people and surrounding nature, it is as if everyone present is unaware of the surroundings in which they find themselves – their attention is focused either inward or toward the painter/photographer.
Here we also see taking shape the female and male archetypes that became so typical for Karólína: the former dressed in blue and red coats as seen in many of her paintings. The male characters are hulking and slow-moving. In one sense this painting and others like it may probably be viewed as a study in the “nature of the Icelander.”