Nominations for the Icelandic Art Prize 2021


The Icelandic Art Prize 2021 will be awarded on February 25 in Reykjavík. The awards provide recognition to outstanding visual artists and exhibitions. The Visual Art Council has annually since 2018 awarded the Icelandic Art Prize. The prize aims to honor Icelandic artists, as well as artists reciting in Iceland, and bring attention to well-deserved indicatives in the field of contemporary art.

Nominations for the Artist of the Year 2021

Haraldur Jónsson

Installation view of Haraldur Jónsson’s Apertures. Courtesy of the artist and BERG Contemporary.

Haraldur Jónsson (b. 1961) is nominated for the Icelandic Art Prize for the exhibition Apertures / Ljósavél in Berg Contemporary. The exhibition stands alone but interacts with the artist’s past shows. In his works, he employs a variety of references that, on closer inspection, turn out to be a means by which he discusses, in a parallel manner, issues that relate to humanity as a whole.

Haraldur Jónsson‘s long career spans three decades and many mediums, but recently a substantial retrospective of his art curated at Kjarvalsstaðir gave us an overview of his career. With the exhibition Apertures, new work has come into the public eye, where the artist’s common themes and characteristics coalesce in an unexpected manner, both as a processing of his career and the unpacking of new ideas. The result is an exhibition grounded in a great deal of self-confidence. Intelligence, both cognitive and sensory, endows the artworks with meaning, but there is always something unsaid. The artist is looking for the human being and Haraldur Jónsson finds her in this undefined space between organs, and beyond them.

Margrét H. Blöndal

Installation view of Margrét H. Blöndal’s Aerotics. Courtesy of the artist and i8 Gallery.

Margrét H. Blöndal (b. 1970) is nominated for the Icelandic Art Prize 2021 for the exhibition Aerotics in Gallery i8. The exhibition continues Margrét’s work through the years: an installation with sculptures and drawings defined by how the artist works with her materials as they relate to the space, but dialogue between artwork and space is an important element in Margrét’s art.

Material qualities are the deciding factor in the works on exhibition, as well as a sensibility for the overlapping of material and space, colours and texture. The exhibition Aerotics is an interesting expression of Margrét’s artistic practice, a practice that has been growing and flourishing in the past three decades, always in logical sequence to previous work. An invisible and colourful thread can be traced through all her work and exhibitions. This time she engaged with a comparatively traditional exhibition space, the white box, with interesting results, but space always plays a role in her work. Margrét has had a long career of exhibiting, both here at home and abroad, and she has been the recipient of numerous grants and other recognition for her work.

Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson. Photo: Ari Magg

From the performance In Search of Magic – A Proposal for a New Constitution for the Republic of Iceland that took place on October 3rd 2020 – Austurvöllur square Reykjavík. Photo: Ari Magg

Libia Castro (b. 1970) and Ólafur Ólafsson (b. 1973) are nominated for the Icelandic Art Prize for their collective performance In Search of Magic – A Proposal for a New Constitution for The Republic of Iceland, that took place on 3rd October at The Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik´s city center, by the Prime Minister´s office and by the Parliament at Austurvöllur Square. The work was produced with Cycle Music and Arts Festival, as part of Reykjavik Arts Festival. Curators Guðný Guðmundsdóttir and Sunna Ástþórsdóttir.

The work is a multiple-voice music and visual art performance of the hundred and fourteen articles of Iceland’s new constitution which was put to a vote in October 2012 and voted for by almost two-thirds of voters. It is a daring and carefully crafted participatory art project that illuminates the power of art and opens a discussion on the very foundations of the social contract. Artist activists teach us that the visual arts concern all of us; there is no subject that visual art should not concern itself with. The artists are investigating human communities, historical conditions, self-identity, nationality, social contracts and the impact of these phenomena on our ideas and behaviours. Libia and Ólafur have collaborated on their visual art since 1997 and with this collective performance they provide us insight into the results of work spanning many years, work that should concern Icelandic citizens and citizens of other democratic nations. Their work has drawn a great deal of attention and they have in these past years exhibited widely, both here at home and in major international shows, museums, and exhibitions, as well as receiving recognition for a diverse range of collaborative projects.

Selma Hreggviðsdóttir and Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir

Installation view of Ljósvaki / Æther. Courtesy of the artists and BERG Contemprary.

Selma Hreggviðsdóttir (b. 1983) and Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir (b. 1977) are nominated for the Icelandic Art Prize for the exhibition Ljósvaki / Æther in Berg Contemporary. The exhibition Æther is one expression of a larger artistic research project on the natural phenomenon Iceland spar composed of small and large photographs and video works on screens.

The works reveal to us the magical lights and bizarre world of rock crystals found in the Helgustaðir mine in Eskifjörður. Their first show as an artist team was in Eskifjörður in summer 2019. The results of their research, works, and exhibitions is a collaborative project, and they are both titled as authors of the works. Beyond this collaboration, they have both been active in staging exhibitions both here at home as well as abroad. Selma and Sirra’s exhibition create intimacy with an otherwise distant phenomenon, the Icelandic spar. The precise character of the research and its expression in artwork inspires our interest and curiosity to become more familiar with nature and the universe, while in the process challenging questions are raised as to man’s capacity to know and adapt to nature’s laws. Science and art collide in an exploration of material that provokes wonder.

Nominations for the Motivational Award 2021

Three up and coming artists are nominated for the Motivational award.

Andreas Brunner

Installation view of Haven’t Crash Landed Yet. Courtesy of the artists.

Andreas Brunner (b. 1988) is nominated for the Motivational Award for the exhibition Haven’t Crash Landed Yet, D41, at the Reykjavik Art Museum, Hafnarhús, curated by Markús Þór Andrésson. The exhibition most resembles a poem. It lives with us in the opaque space of aesthetic perception and fragmented thoughts, looking for a tangible meaning that continually escapes us.

Andreas Brunner is from Zürich in Switzerland, but lives and works in Reykjavík. He completed a B.A. degree in visual art from Lucerne University of Applied Science and Arts in Luzern in Switzerland in 2016 and later enrolled in M.A. studies in visual art at the Iceland University of the Arts, from which he graduated in 2018. Since completing his studies in Switzerland, Andreas has actively exhibited, both here and abroad and has twice been the recipient of an Artist’s Salary in this country. In his creative practice he reconsiders concepts and ideas, often connected to cultural development, meaning-creation or the experience of time, space and material. Taken as a whole, his work is more related to the field of association of ideas and sensory experiences than specific manifestations in the work itself.  The exhibition’s title, I Haven’t Crash Landed Yet, points towards an inescapable future, to what is not now, but will be. 

Guðlaug Mía Eyþórsdóttir

Installation view of Milli hluta. Courtesy of the artists.

Guðlaug Mía Eyþórsdóttir (b. 1988) is nominated for the Motivational Award for the exhibition Milli hluta at the Mosfellsbær Art Gallery. The meaning of the exhibition lies between the objects. And yet it could live in the formalized memories of each and every one of us, in our daily activities. Guðlaug Mía’s active engagement in her artistic practice is synthetized in this original, well-crafted exhibition.

Guðlaug completed a B.A. degree in visual art from the Iceland University of the Arts in 2012 and later studied at the M.A. programme in visual arts at the Koninklijke Academie in Gent in Belgium from which she graduated in 2018.

Una Björg Magnúsdóttir

Installation view of Vanishing Crowd. Courtesy of the artists.

Una Björg Magnúsdóttir (b. 1990) is nominated for the Motivational Award for her show Vanishing Crowd, D40, in the Reykjavik Art Museum, Hafnarhús. Curator, Aldís Snorradóttir. In an impressive gesture, Una Björg steps onto the stage with her exhibition Vanishing Crowd. There she presents a seductive but also revealing charade of illusions that elicits tension and surprise in an unpredictable plot. The title of the exhibition Vanishing Crowd is borrowed from the illusionist David Copperfield, who made people disappear without a trace on a stage in Las Vegas. The impossible becomes possible in one momentary glimpse.

Una Björg works in Reykjavík. She completed a B.A. degree in visual art from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2014, and later studied at the M.A. program in visual art at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne in Switzerland from which she graduated in 2018. Since she completed her studies, Una Björg has actively exhibited in this country and has been the recipient of grants and the Artist’s Salary while also taking the lead on interesting group exhibitions and events in the field of visual arts. She is a member of the Kling and Bang Gallery in Reykjavik’s exhibition supervisory team. Una Björg incorporates different objects and compositions in her works which are often mobile or emit sounds. The hyper familiar often appears in her installations, her sculptural stage designs or visual work, while continually being deconstructed in the process, challenging and exposing, creating a new experience that evokes a sense of wonder.

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