The museums 25th anniversary
We are open every day from 10 AM – 5 PM until September 13th.
To mark the anniversary the Reykjanes Art Museum wished to highlight the event by showing selected works from the collection, titled Tales from Safnasafn Museum. This successful and enjoyable collaboration was on the initiative of art historian Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson, who also curated. It displayed paintings by Sigurður Einarsson and sculptures by Hálfdan Ármann Björnsson, Jón E. Guðmundsson and Sæmundur Valdimarsson.
All these artists are deceased, but their memory lives on in their work.
Sólheimar Ecovillage celebrates its 90th anniversary
The unique ecovillage at Sólheimar in South Iceland, a sustainable community known for its artistic and ecological ambiance, celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. At Sólheimar around 100 people live and work together, growing vegetables and creating artworks in painting, woodwork, weaving, candlemaking and ceramic workshops. The founders of Safnasafnið were long ago drawn to these enchanting artworks, and long before they founded the museum they had already aquired works by some of the artists living at Sólheimar.
This was the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between the two institutions, with the museum regularily hosting exhibitions by artist from Sólheimar. Often the artworks on display were then donated to the museum, and over the years a fine collection has been built up, showing the great variety and joyful creativity of the artists. This exhibition is the Museum’s contribution to the annual art festival Art Without Borders, and will be on display for two years.
The Ásgeir G. Gunnlaugsson & Co shop was located in Austurstræti in Reykjavík, in the ownership of the same family from 1907 to 2006, when it closed down. Today the interior fittings are used as a setting for craft and textile-related exhibitions.
This year’s exhibition in the shop shows a version of the Icelandic national costume for women, a kyrtill (kyrtle) by Magnhildur Sigurðardóttir. The costume is based on ideas put forward in 1870 by Sigurður Guðmundsson, known as the Painter [1833-1874].
Also on display in the shop are 230 perfume bottles, donated by Sara Hólm in 2018. The bottles are from major fashion brands of the world, designed by famous artists, including Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.
The south wing
In the shop’s inner area, so called south wing, is the exhibition In human form. The exhibition displays more than 50 artworks selected from the collection, made by over 30 different artists. Some of the works have been exhibited before in different contexts, while others have never been displayed until now. In all the works the outline of the human form can be detected, quite obviously in some, while in other bizarre variants it is hardly recognizable. From the outset the Folk and Outsider Art Museum has placed emphasis on the diverse expression of the artist‘s self – whether in a reflection of themselves, or in other manifestations.
The museum library contains hundreds of books and vast source material about visual arts, design, architecture, textile and crafts. It also includes source material about the museum, its exhibitions since the outset, the collection and the museum’s own research on folk art and outsider artists.
In the library are displayed illuminations and examples of lettering and ornament in manuscripts preserved in the National Library of Iceland. These examples are part of an extensive research project carried out in 2003 by Ásrún Kristjánsdóttir, mapping illuminations and artworks in old Icelandic manuscripts. In 2008 Safnasafnið museum was presented with 78 works from the project.
Safnasafnið holds a permanent collection of national costume dolls from all over the world. Of about 800 dolls in the collection, 400 are on display. The museum’s visitors enjoy finding dolls belonging to their homeland, as well as learning about other nations.
Collaboration with schools
This year the children at the local Álfaborg preschool show their works in the conservatory adjacent to the doll collection. The museum collaborates annually with schoolchildren from the Eyjafjörður district. The purpose of this collaboration is to foster from an early age the children’s imagination and interest in art; the museum is also honoured by their participation and takes pleasure in sharing their cheerfulness and joy of creation.
Blossoms – Sölvi Helgason í 200 ár
Sölvi Helgason was born 200 years ago at Fjall, a farm in Skagafjörður, north Iceland. To commemorate this anniversary the Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum has set up an exhibition of his works. Sölvi Helgason, or Solon Islandus as he also called himself, was born into poverty – at a time when Icelandic law compelled those who had no land of their own to work on farms under annual contracts, and forbade unauthorised travel outside their local district. Sölvi disregarded these limitations, maintaining that his art provided full justification for him to be allowed freedom of movement. Hence he became renowned all over Iceland for his roving, and his dealings with the authorities who repeatedly punished him with flogging and imprisonment. While wandering the countryside and dealing with authorities, Sölvi created unique artworks with tendrils and floral ornament, which are so typical of his art. In addition Sölvi was always writing, and would often write reflections or statements on his pictures, and in many cases the reverse of the picture is covered with his minuscule writing. The artistic importance and merit of Sölvi Helgason’s works is indisputable, reflecting the admirably spontaneous, tenacious creativity of a penniless vagabond.
A notable aspect of this exhibition is that it includes eleven previously unknown works by Sölvi Helgason from a private collection in Denmark. Sincere thanks for the loan of the works to the owners: Birgitte Herbert Nielsen, Hanne Hendil, Jesper Herbert-Nielsen, Kirsten Herbert Rønnebek and Lisbeth Herbert Møller.
Fruits of Earth and Imagination
In this exhibition curator Níels Hafstein has created a true garden of magic and delight, with the objective of displaying art works and objects from the collection made by a large number of artists, showing the diversity of their ideas, methods and choice of materials. The works take as their subject grassfields, pastureland, tussocks, trees and bushes, flowers, fruits and vegetables. But, while vegetation takes centre stage in the exhibition, that is not its sole focus, as humans and animals also feature – in the proximity of the eye or the perspective of the landscape.
And behind, or within reach, lurks the unexpected. Opposites and parallels are presented – sizes, shapes, colours, smooth or rough textures, to establish unity on each wall, establishing connections throughout the space via emphases and sightlines, bringing the works together and providing the visitor with a multifaceted experience.
In Hreinn Friðfinnsson’s delicate and lyrical artworks he frequently uses photographs, text, stories and folklore, dreams and supernatural events, often with a delicate sense of humour. In one of his works displayed at the museum, an event is explored that took place at the Folk and Outsider Art Museum some time ago – evoking and reinforcing the view held by some, that the museum is surrounded by communities of hidden people.
Magnús Logi Kristinsson
In Magnús Logi’s performance-based practice, language and the body have become structural and sculptural forms. The exhibition at the Folk and Outsider Art Museum includes photographs of his various performances, where he uses colour on his own body and acts as a living sculpture; as a rule he stands motionless as a statue, while observers may come and go as they please during the performance.
Gunnhildur Hauksdóttir og Jóhanna Jóhannsdóttir
Gunnhildur Hauksdóttir makes two-dimensional works, sculptures, installations, audio works, videos and performance art, often combining the different forms. The Folk and Outsider Art Museum invited Gunnhildur to make an audio work to accompany Jóhanna Jóhannsdóttir’s textile drawings belonging to the museum’s collection. The clacking of the loom in weaving provides a basis, to which voices are added. The intention of the installation is to bring out movement and flow in time with the sound-world of Gunnhildur Hauksdóttir, grounded in Jóhanna’s textile art. These diverse forms merge together into an autonomous, multifaceted entity that bridges the gap between generations.
Jóhanna Jóhannsdóttir (1918-1985) was born at Hellissandur, west Iceland, where she grew up doing needlework of various kinds. She studied at the Laugaland school of domestic science in Eyjafjörður, and pursued further study at Statens Håndverks- og Kunstindustrihøgskolen in Norway. Jóhanna’s oeuvre includes weavings, rugs and embroidery, as well as her carefully-kept workbooks with samples of patterns, textiles and sketches for larger pieces.
Helena Ósk Jónsdóttir
Helena Ósk Jónsdóttir (b. 1999) developed at an early age her own personal drawing style, initially in her pictures of horses – which have played an important role in her life since childhood. Helena Ósk has a strong sense of ambiance, and she will often ask those who are with her to listen to her art tools as she draws – observe the rustle of the paper, and how the pencil and colour travel across it. In the exhibition, drawings and sculptures by Helena Ósk are displayed along with mass-produced plastic horses which the artist has artfully adapted. Her passion and sensitivity for animals is powerfully expressed in her works.
Guðrún Bergsdóttir commenced her artistic career when she was around thirty, using needle, yarn and canvas to form her own personal style. Before starting her needlework, Guðrún made pictures with tusch on paper that resemble her textiles in many ways. Over a period of 18 years between 2000 and 2018, Guðrún created her own unique style, embroidering a total of 66 original works, of which a selection is here on display, including both her first and last work of this type.
Guðrún’s embroidery, with roots in both traditional handicraft and geometric abstract art, has attracted great attention and admiration over the years. In harmony with the Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum’s agenda, Guðrún’s works address the man-made borders of the Art World, with its well-known but unspoken restrictions that raise fences separating autodidact artists from trained ones, without taking account of the creative and artistic merits of their works.
Níels Hafstein has for decades been a pioneer on the Icelandic art scene, both as an independent artist and also as innovator and creative force. In this exhibition, Níels presents drawings, films, paintings, photos and sculptures in an aesthetic composition and an inventive context in order to draw attention to water shortage and uncomfortable truths about the ecology of the oceans.