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  • ImagesPaintings, 2000–2017
  • Sigurður Magnússon

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Sigurður Magnússon HVÍLD—REST, 2002 Oil on canvas, 110 × 178 cm

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Sigurður Magnússon FLEKAR II—PLATES II, 2017 Oil on canvas, 160 × 150 cm

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Sigurður Magnússon GALLERIA, 2017 Oil on paper on board, 118 × 135 cm

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IMAGES >> SIGURÐUR MAGNÚSSON

Early in my life, I became active in Icelandic labor unions and state politics. I studied electrical engineering and became the head of the Apprentices' Union of Iceland, an active member of the Icelandic left-wing party The People's Alliance, and a member of parliament for the party for a couple of years in the 1970s. At the same time, I cofounded a large electrical and metal mechanics cooperative and served as director for twelve years. Because of this work, I was stationed for long periods of time in the highlands of Iceland during the construction of the country's geothermal and hydropower plants. In order to detach myself from the work-related stress, I sought refuge in my art supplies, which were always kept at my bedside.

In 1991, forty-three years old, I graduated from the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts (MHÍ) after four years of study. I then began graduate studies in London, first at Goldsmiths, University of London, graduating in 1994. And in 1996 I earned an MA in painting from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London. Despite professionalizing late in my life, art had always been a big part of it, through drawing, painting, and writing poems for myself, and I still feel that my artistic intuition stems from a convergence between the three, as a stream of spontaneous personal expression.

I returned to Iceland in 1997 and actively pursued my career as an artist. In the early 2000s I began to participate in politics again, on the side, this time municipal politics in Álftanes, in a small village on a peninsula right next to the capital, Reykjavík. The small peninsula has pristine beaches and wetlands that function as nature preserves, as the area has strategic value for migrating birds. I ended up cofounding a political coalition movement that united people from different political parties around values of social development and nature conservation and consequentially served as the mayor of Álftanes for a couple of years.

These experiences have informed, influenced, and inspired my work, which has Man and his desire to control the world around him as a point of departure. In my art, I seek to weave together social experience, Icelandic nature, and influence from artists—especially Icelandic, Scandinavian, and German expressionist painters—as well as the CoBrA movement and Scottish and English narrative art. Symbolism, as well as naïve and medieval art, have had a great impact on my work, and abstract expressionism on my interpretations of landscapes. I am drawn to art that contrasts our materialistic and multi-capitalist society, which threatens human cultures. I mostly work with oil colors but also mixed media when creating smaller works. I never make preliminary sketches for my oil paintings, nor do I use photographs, but I do draw a lot of small pictures that serve as notes for ideas and memories that I then draw upon later in my paintings. My brush stroke technique is rather fast, oscillating, and rough, and I like to create conflict on the canvas between unruly surfaces and more passive and clean areas. Sometimes I paint with thin, transparent colors to create different depths and I seek to evoke nuances [End Page 120] of color by painting without letting layers completely dry. Moreover, I repaint completely or partially over dried layers, stacking them up to draw attention to the surface. In...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
pp. 3-123
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-18
Open Access
No
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