Frankfurt Book Fair – Part III

On the occasion of the Iceland’s presentation as Guest of Honor ad the Fair, many appointments were staged in Frankfurt for Iceland’s literature, art and culture in general. I was able to visit at least the Schirn Kunsthalle, (www.schirn.de), where two exhibitions were dedicated to two Icelandic artists: Gabríela Friðriksdóttir, with her impressive «Crepusculum» installation, and Erró (who now lives in Paris) with a selection of his paintings, notably the Scapes serie and, for the first time, the entire cycle of his Monsters. Both exhibitions will last until 8. January, 2012, and if you are going to Frankfurt for some reason, they are worth a visit.

Cover of the «Crepusculum» bookGabríela Friðriksdóttir’s installation merges very different materials (some medieval Icelandic manuscripts, too, leaving Iceland for the first time) creating a room whose exploration can last for hours: she created it for the Schirn, bringing all the materials from Iceland. Although full of carefully crafted details, Crepusculum gives a deep sense of breadth and expanse, notwithstanding the general crepuscular tone. Gabríela Friðriksdóttir is known also for her collaborations with Björk for her films and for this installation Kehrer Verlag für Kunst, Kultur und Fotografie, published a 308 pages book, with 164 color and 28 black-and-white illustrations (of course entitled Crepusculum). « Gabríela Friðriksdóttir’s working method – explains the presentation – is distinguished by a polymorphism of media: drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures stand equivalent to installations, performance art and video films. In her works. Gabriela draws together different cultural, religious and psychological levels into an idiosyncratic aesthetic canon of symbols, forms and meanings. This applies notably to the films which, together with their surreal scenarios and abandonment of classical narrative models, produce a wondrous world, in which puzzling visions are interwoven with faces from Ancient Norse mythology and with psychosexual associations.»

Erro's Birdscape - detail

Erró’s works are of a completely different nature: the painting fo the series Scapes, for example, are built with an infinity of small variations on a single theme: a Birdscape is made of hundreds of birds, crowding a large canvas where it is very difficult to find a focus or a center – you can only take it on the whole or lose yourself in the small details. «Erró ranks among the great solitary figures of twentieth-century art. At once pop and baroque, eye-catching and narrative, critical of society and humorous, moral and inscrutable, he has produced an opulent, unmistakable oeuvre refusing all categorization in the course of the past fifty years. Combining pictorial elements from a wide variety of popular sources reproduced in painting, his critical narrative collages unfold eloquent tableaus: reflecting essential social issues such as politics, war, science, art, and sexuality, Erró’s dense visual arrangements seem to be aimed at assembling a comprehensive atlas of images of the modern world. »

The quotation is from the presentation of the book dedicated, on the occasion of this exhibition, by Hatje Cantz Verlag (edited by Esther Schlicht and Max Hollein. With a preface by Max Hollein, texts by Esther Schlicht and Wolfgang Ullrich, and a chronology by Danielle Kvaran. German and English edition, 128 pages, 86 illustrations and 270 film stills).

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