Kjarval and the Contemporary

Jóhannes S. Kjarval, Esja 10 February, 1959.

Kjarval and the Contemporary



The exhibition contains selected works by painter Jóhannes S. Kjarval (1885-1972), a pioneer of Icelandic art. Kjarval opened people’s eyes to their environment in such a dramatic way that he is considered one of the most beloved artists of art history in Iceland.

In this exhibition works by Kjarval are paired with those by contemporary artists, and in doing so, merge ideas from different times.

Here you can see direct reference to Kjarval´s works in approach and work method. Kjarval’s main subject was nature and landscape. Mountainsides, lava and moss inspire artists. Two time periods show different approaches to nature, whether in imagery, character, or conceptual foundation of the work. Place and time spent in nature are at the core of these artworks, or have a strong influence on the artist´s interpretation.

The countryside speaks to people at any given moment and the need to express that experience in a way of its own is renewed generation after generation. These works reflect varied media, different trends and the changing spirits of the times.

Kjarval plays a large role in the history of Icelandic art and culture, and he has been a role model and inspiration for generations of artists. His persona and life’s work surrounds us, for good reason. Kjarval’s work is preserved and examined at Reykjavík Art Museum – Kjarvalsstaðir. Selected pieces are always on display and diverse exhibitions show his career in a wide context, often with works from the museum collection or with special exhibitions that focus on particular aspects of his creative process. This exhibition places Kjarval’s work in a dialogue with the works of younger, contemporary artists. Thus, the exhibition invites us to become better acquainted with one of the greatest Icelandic artists, but also the works of prominent contemporary artists who have made their mark on the Icelandic and international art scene..