Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson Pocket Utopia

Pocket Utopia’s pint-sized exhibition space squeezes the most out of an expansive, large-scale textile painting by Jónsson. Best seen to full advantage with a bit more elbow room, I was still glad to have the chance to get up close to these “subversive” works. 

At Pocket Utopia

In fact, Austin Thomas told me that she and Sharon Butler came up with that term during a discussion of this Icelandic artist’s work.
I think the idea fits. Jónsson’s pieces could be considered subverting painting not only by their pale, unbrushed chroma, but also by the craft technique used to fabricate them. These are not extroverted works. Infused by the Nordic sensibility they maintain a stoic, static flatness that characterizes a subdued, yet stately presence. 

From the Tang Museum exhibit.

 They emphasize a specific physical process of pigmentation and weaving, but contain a pronounced abstract approach that dissuades notions of conventional landscape imagery. They also challenge preconceptions of presentation; perhaps employing a dry bit of wit, since although they are not stretched on bars, they do appear stretched out. That is key to the artist’s crafty intent; the unique schema here could only be achieved on a loom. 

Yet these pieces are essentially rooted in the Icelandic landscape. Jónsson’s photos of the austere north Atlantic scenery serve as templates for the completed works. The photos share a commonality with Olafur Eliasson’s mystical reveries, and reveal an intimacy of scale I’d like to see more of in the larger scale canvases. 

Photo by Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson

Perhaps the artist’s architectural background contributes to the dried out schematics of her designs, but the blurry, diffuse aesthetic ends up engaging an appealing metaphor of drifting, intuitive map forms. 
This video provides a look at the artist at work:

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