Unndór Egill Jónsson and Ásmundur Sveinsson: After the Blizzard
Unndór Egill Jónsson exhibits his work in a conversation with the work of Ásmundur Sveinsson. Sculptors from different periods meet in dialogue that offers a new insight into Ásmundur’s heritage and introduces new works by a contemporary artist to the viewers. The museum has been working with Ásmund's legacy in this way for some time now.
When analysing the present and discerning the zeitgeist, it is often useful to look back. It is important to view the past in light of today, but also reverse; to compare today with the past, ponder things and thereby get a clearer picture, a new angle. In the words of Ásmundur Sveinsson:
„I can’t understand how the past and the present should be opposites. Major rivers don’t stop flowing even if the distributaries flow into them. (…) Without new works, without the present, the past ceases to be interesting, it becomes a reservoir which dries up in drought” (Matthías Johannessen, Bókin um Ásmund, pg. 34).
Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982) and Unndór Egill Jónsson (1978) are sculptors from two different periods. One of them was born at Kolsstaðir, Dalasýsla, at the end of the nineteenth century, and was active in the atmosphere of industrial development, progress and technological advances that modernism brought. The other graduated from art school in 2011, he is a part of the generation who is faced with undoing the damage done by previous generations. The exhibition title, After the Blizzard, comes from a letter Ásmundur wrote to his mother from Copenhagen in 1920, where he describes a piece he is working on as depicting “a dead body, half-buried in snow”. Unfortunately, the work is lost but he gave it the picturesque title, After the Blizzard. In the context of the exhibition, the blizzard can be interpreted as the whirlwind of change that happened in the 20th century, in all areas of human existence, and is reflected in Ásmundur’s art. The ideology of this period begat the environmental chaos we now face and Unndór deals with in his work, among other things.
Ásmundur and Unndór are both professionals, great workmen and idealists. A few of the things that connect them and their art creation are their use of material, where wood plays a large part, the movement and mobility often present in their works, and their view on, and inspiration from, nature.
About the Artists
Unndór Egill Jónsson (1978) graduated with a bachelor's degree from the art department of the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2008 and completed an MFA from the Valand School of Art in Gothenburg in 2011. In recent years, he has exhibited both in Iceland and abroad, including a group exhibition Momentum Design in Moss in Norway in 2010, Riki, flora, fána, fabula in the Reykjavík Art Museum in 2016, in the Estonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Tallinn, Estonia in 2018 and in Abrakadabra in the Reykjavík Art Museum in 2021. In 2020, Unndór held the solo exhibition Cul de Sac in Kling and Bang in the Marshall House.
Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982) was among the pioneers of Icelandic sculpture and one of the artists who introduced new art ideas to Icelanders in the 20th century. Ásmundur was inspired by Icelandic folktales and myths, but he also drew a lot from the society and technological advances of his time. Ásmundur’s work can be found in public places all over the country and are prominent in Reykjavík. He stayed true to his opinion that the art should be for the people and belonged with the people. Ásmundur left his works and his home to the city of Reykjavík. Ásmundarsafn at Sigtún was formally opened in spring 1983 and has hosted diverse exhibitions.