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Haraldur Jónsson

Haraldur Jónsson studied at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts, in the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf and at the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Arts Plastiques. He has held numerous private exhibitions around the world and his art had been featured in innumerable group shows. He is also a published writer of poetry and prose. More of his artworks can be seem on his homepage at http://this.is/comet/

 

Haraldur Jónsson is an artist with a delicate touch and his works sometimes seem to have been made from nothing at all. His pieces and installations seem to map intangible webs and fleeting thoughts that hover at the edge of consciousness, the emotions that form the intangible accompaniment to our lives, sometimes fleeting, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes restrained, sometimes out of our control. Many of his sculptural pieces describe silence or darkness in one way or another: A large black rectangle of sound-absorbing material fixed onto a gallery wall; large shapes that seem calculated to channel, emit or cancel sounds but that remain obstinately quiet; a sealed box full of Icelandic darkness that was his contribution to a travelling exhibition in the United States; a pair of boxes that, if one stands between them, eliminate the sounds of the environment so one can hear one’s own heartbeat. Haraldur’s silences are pregnant with energy and ideas, things we don’t normally notice beneath the soundscapes of our life. His approach to conceptual art is unusual in that his concepts are always elusive, the shift under our gaze and can never quite be defined. In this his work may be compared to that of Hreinn Friðfinnsson, to name an older Icelandic artist, but Haraldur’s sculptures, installations and photographs also have a strange and sometimes almost uncomfortable physical association, insistent and demanding. This was particularly clear in his contribution to the exhibition In the Flesh in the Reykjavík Art Festival of 1998. Haraldur had curtained off a corner of the hall where a doctor in attendance drew blood from the visitor that he could then take home in a small clear vial. In effect, the visitor was himself the work of art, framed in the transparent plastic container.

 

With his use of human blood Haraldur presented a symbol of living energy that is continuously recreating itself and which grows and emits heat. In his drawings, photographs and sculptures he also seeks out the vague thoughts and associations that escape our taxonomies, the lines that never quite meet and the thoughts that have no obvious expression. Sometimes the result conveys a wry humour, for example in the Arctic Fruits series of photographs which shows Icelandic gardens in winter, the trees laden with Christmas lights in lieu of the fruit that people enjoy in warmer climes. Haraldur works in many media but his artwork always has the look of having grown from the germ of an idea, almost without any intervention on the artist’s part. There is nothing there that is extraneous to the idea of the work but, in contrast to most minimalist art, the ideas remain free to meander and branch into new thoughts in the viewer’s mind.

 

JP

An image from the Arctic Fruits series, featured at the 2005 Reykjavík Arts Festival
Emotional Wallpaper, part of Haraldur's ongoing investigation of the intangible world of feeling and emotions.

  #6 [October 2005]

 

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