Hreinn Friðfinnsson

2 November 2007 – 27 January 2008


His art is celebrated for its lyricism that transcends the often commonplace subject matter and materials he uses. Friðfinnsson’s practice encompasses photography and drawing as well as sculpture and installation.

His works are linked, however, by a common sensibility and lightness of touch.

Friðfinnsson’s work shares a similar sensibility to that of a number of different artists, including Bas Jan Ader, Giovanni Anselmo, Giulio Paolini, Robert Smithson and Richard Long. Though distinctly different in their approaches, all of them were born, like Friðfinnsson, in the 1930s and 40s and the diversity of categories into which their work falls demonstrates the multiplicity of attitudes present in Friðfinnsson’s work. It could be characterised as conceptual, in the sense that it is ideas driven, or as Arte Povera in its use of everyday materials; much of it might be considered stripped down or Minimalist and some of his outdoor projects can be seen as examples of earthworks or Land Art.

The natural world is central to Friðfinnsson’s practice. He grew up in the magnificence of the Icelandic countryside, on a farm in the 1940s and 50s. He says it is impossible to separate himself from the landscape; it is in his body and part of his psychological makeup. The early experience of a vast unpopulated landscape and its rhythms is fundamental to understanding his work.

His vocabulary, underscored by a delicate sense of humour, encompasses doubling, dreams, folklore, perceptual tricks and the supernatural. Through these means, Friðfinnsson is searching for equivalence between one thing and another. Within this exhibition, for example, no one piece is more important or central. Instead, we find ourselves in the midst of a dispersed and non-hierarchical universe, where the wonder of a simple discovery is cause for celebration.

Born in 1943 in Baer Dölum, Iceland, Friðfinnsson gained prominence as a leading figure on the Icelandic avant-garde scene after founding the group SÚM with other artists in Reykjavik in 1965. He moved to Amsterdam in the early 1970s and has been living and working there ever since.

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery in London and artist Olafur Eliasson. Curated by Kitty Scott.

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Hreinn Friðfinnsson / Attending 1973 / Image courtesy of the artist

Hreinn Friðfinnsson / Attending 1973 / Image courtesy of the artist


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