Icelandic Art

Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson


Photography, 6 x (40 x 55 cm).
Materials: ink-jet print, canvas

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp - Estate of Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson, Antwerp.

"When Icelandic politicians and officials are interviewed on the TV news, it is astonishing how often they happen to be standing in front of traditional Icelandic paintings. By doing so, consciously or unconsciously they are placing themselves in a cultural context and exploiting the aesthetic and sometimes intellectual image that such works of art conceivably convey. In cooperation with the State Television news desk, Thorsteinsson chose 12 frames from 12 interviews, had them printed on canvas and exhibited them as if they were conventional paintings. Through this work Thorsteinsson is not only reflecting on the obvious hypocrisy of politicians who identify themselves with Icelandic art at the same time as they see little reason to contribute to its growth off-camera. The exhibition also prompted questions about how much television coverage is given to Icelandic art, considering that it is hardly visible there, except in such interviews.
Its name also invited questions about the starting-point of "Icelandic art" in the works. Does it appear as an ideological work conceived and realized by Thorsteinsson? Does it appear in the form of a portrait in the realist vein? Or does it first and foremost appear in the background of the works, where the traditional Icelandic painting proves to be the most substantial material for the spectator's artistic experience? The exhibition was dedicated to the State Television news desk and its important contribution to Icelandic art."

In: Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson - Art Works, Reykjavik, 1998

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