On a day when I spent some time thinking about what sort of things I might like to do whilst here, I had made a decision to check out the local art gallery in Reykjavík. I am rather partial to art and it was something to do that did not necessarily require or involve others. I duly went to Hafnarhúsið, located on Tryggvagata. This is one of the three venues for the Listasafn Reykjavíkur. This venue focuses on modern art.
Upon entry I was informed there was a 2 for 1 deal that was about to expire on the yearly passes. Furthermore, the blue card would be the best choice for the discerning art aficionado. In accordance with my passion for supporting the arts, I purchased the recommended blue card, and received the extra card as promised. I have yet to find a suitable recipient for the additional card, but I do have a full year to do so, I suppose. There were three exhibits running at the time. Perspectives – On the Borders of Art and Philosophy, Erró – Collage, and Tomi Ungerer – Posters and Drawings. I viewed the three exhibits in that order. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around on my own viewing the displayed pieces of art.
A few others shared in the experience, but it was not at all busy that day. I liked the photographs of the lampshades taken from the point of view of looking directly up into them, so you see the circle of the shade with the bulb in the center, almost flower-like in composition. The random collection of objects placed in some sort of order, where the artist asks “Where is the art?” had me actually asking that question, so I guess that was effective.
I had fun with the video exhibit where there was a projector that showed overlaid video from previous times. I would hide behind the podium, disappearing and reappearing, and then also sticking out an arm, or my head, randomly for good measure. I any case, the whole experience was most agreeable and I vowed to return for a further viewing at a later date (which, subsequently, I did, as it so happens).
Some days later, I decided to make further use of the special blue card and go to see Jór! Hestar í íslenskri myndlist (Jór! Horses in Icelandic Art), at Kjarvalsstaðir, on Flókagata. I had barely twenty minutes left before they were due to close. So I hurried along in order to maximize my time there. The staff were most accommodating and friendly and directed me to where the exhibition was. I wasted no time in taking in the horse-related art.
There were oil on canvas paintings, bronze sculptures, plaster and clay models, in fact all manner of depictions of the great Icelandic horse that so endears itself to me. Even though I had very little time in which to soak up the ambience, I quickly became engrossed. I had just enough time to get a real feel for what the pieces were conveying. I noticed that I suddenly became quite emotional, choked up, if you will. Something was stirring within me, something deeper than what I am used to as a norm. I felt a yearning, a pang, for those days when I too expressed myself through art.
I had not taken pencil to paper for many many years, and now the desire to do so was calling from somewhere very deep within me. I continued on, and the feeling grew the more I looked. I finished rushing through the horse exhibit and headed over quickly to the Jóhannes S. Kjarval – Key Works exhibit and similarly rushed through that. When my time had expired I had managed to take in a sufficient quantity of arty things, and felt appropriately satisfied. I made a similar vow to return there at a later time (which, again, I did. These blue card thingies are quite handy).
When I was leaving I asked the person on duty at the entrance for the location of an art supply store in town, which I was given. I had decided then that I would, indeed, return to expressing myself through art, in one form or another. How could I ignore such a strong prompting from within?
So here we are a few weeks later, and I find myself at home with access to a pencil and some plain paper. It seemed like the ideal opportunity to fulfill the earlier promise I made to myself. I chose a subject, the mountainside of Meðalfell, I chose some appropriate music to listen to: Sigur Rós – Ágætis Byrjun (“A good beginning”), and I set about my return to the world of art.
As I began sketching, I felt awkward, clumsy and unsure of even the tiniest movement on the page. I had been told that it would not be in the least bit good to start with, and my expectations were fairly low as a result. Nevertheless, I hoped in earnest that I had not completely lost the ability to express myself in this manner. I soldiered on regardless. Much like the first few lake walks I took, where every step felt like it required special effort, and was awkward, clumsy and unsure. Clearly there’s a lot going on under the surface whilst I am trying to do this.
I used to be good at sketching, a long time ago. As I continued on, things started to take shape. Something recognizable formed on the sheet of paper. Perhaps I still had it in me, maybe not as polished as it once was, but still there, still functional. I kept on until I had completed the sketch to my own satisfaction, and stopped immediately. I had no desire to spend longer than necessary on the first sketch I had done in such a long long time. I gathered my camera and hurriedly took a photo so I could post on this blog about the whole experience.
Stepping back and taking a look, I thought … that’s actually not nearly as bad as I had anticipated it might be. There was a moment of emotional stirring within me, and I knew I had done a good thing. I shall be doing more, and, like the lake walks, I am sure I will feel much more comfortable with the whole thing in due course.
Bless Bless og Sjáumst!