Sleppa leiðarkerfi.

 #1 [May 2005]


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Birgir Andrésson

Birgir Andrésson’s recent series Build (2004) consists of cardboard boxes with rectangles and squares cut from their surfaces. The open structures—the result of removing lettering from the boxes—are striking visualizations of the riddle of language, the nature of which, as a system of signs, is to refer to that which is not present.


The work was inspired by a childhood experience in the home for the blind where the artist grew up. (Andrésson’s father and stepmother were both blind.) An old man who had partial sight in one eye asked the young Andrésson to cut out the letters on cardboard boxes so that he could write a personal letter by arranging cardboard letters into words. Andrésson enthusiastically collected cardboard boxes from the shops and cut out the letters. It soon became clear that the project would fail, however: the first sentence exceeded ten meters.


The relationship between language and visual perception is an ongoing preoccupation in Andressson’s text portraits, drawings, wall installations, and three-dimensional constructions. Andresson’s first mature works were made under the overarching title of “Nearness.” These included a series of word portraits of unidentified individuals, inspired by ancient parliament proceedings which recorded physical descriptions of runaway criminals. The background of the word portraits are mechanical reproductions of colors that the artists identifies by their NCS-reference numbers preceded by the adjective “Icelandic.” Since the mid-eighties, Andresson’s text-based works use color which is designated as “Icelandic.” A recent series, currently on view at Museum Abteiburg Möchengladbach, Germany, presents titles of black-and-white film classics (such as “Psycho” and “Der Blaue Engel”) painted on flat fields identified as “Icelandic color.”


Born in 1955 in the Westmann Islands, Andrésson studied at the Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht, Holland. He has exhibited widely in Europe, including a one-person exhibition at Nils Staerk Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, and, currently, a one-person exhibition at Museum Abteiburg Mönchengladbach. Andrésson represented Iceland at the 1995 Venice Biennale.


While most Icelandic artists of international stature have actively sought distance from the enmeshments of a small society, Andrésson decided early in his career that he would tackle not distance but the problem of nearness. “I decided that I would try to understand this small circle without leaving it,” Andresson said in conversation. The artist is particularly interested in exploring those rhetorical structures and material practices integral to Icelandic history and folklore. Flags, postage stamps, lettering, cabinetry, ancient rhyme schemes, and archeological drawings are some of the forms explored in his work.


Eva Heisler



Black and White Filmclassics in Icelandic Colors

Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60cm




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