Listasafn Reykjavíkur / Reykjavik Art Museum

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Sverrir Haraldsson

Án titils

Year
1951
Height
60 cm
Width
60 cm
Category
Málverk
Sub-category
Olíumálverk

Sverrir Haraldsson is without a doubt one of the wunderkinder of Icelandic art. At 14 years old he was already a proficient landscape painter, at 16 he was accepted into the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (forerunner of the Iceland Academy of the Arts) in Reykjavík, the youngest of all Icelandic artists, and two years later his paintings were accepted at the autumn exhibition of FÍM – the Society of Icelandic Visual Artists. In 1952 Sverrir held a one-man show in the Listamannaskálinn gallery which displayed his diverse talents. He seemed to be above all interested in soft forms – arched and curved lines and organic imagery. This painting, Untitled, shows how he breaks up what is seen – buildings and landscapes – and fuses them together with an emphasis on soft forms, like layers of veils. In 1952–53 he studied in Paris where he underwent the discipline of concrete/strict geometric art, like the majority of young Icelandic artists who studied there at the time. Later Sverrir was critical of his concrete paintings from 1952–55. He remarked: “Now when I try to make sense of it in retrospect I see that when I was the deepest into that geometry I had become a half-blind man … I couldn't see nature and wasn't affected by it at all. I had ceased to react against it and even against life itself. I couldn't see the colours any more. … You rushed up to your imaginary room in an ivory tower, and wrestled with arranging squares. … The longer this went on, the more my emotions were numbed.” The artist adds: “You have to admit your mistakes. My paintings from 1952–55 are certainly a part of my search for myself. I can't repudiate them, and there's no reason to. They’re my sins. … Their only role is to help me to mend my ways. … Now I use much more of my imagination in landscapes than I ever did in the Abstract paintings at the time.” (Matthías Johannessen: Sverrir Haraldsson, p. 49–50, 57).

Other works by artist