Sculpture/sculpture, the title of a new series of exhibitions taking place at Gerðarsafn, in Kópavogur, refers to Sculpture/sculpture/sculpture, the moniker for an event that occurred at Kjarvalsstaðir in 1994. Although the current run of shows will probably include fewer than the 27 artists who took part in the previous exhibition, the work of the first two artists, Habby Osk and Baldur Geir Bragason, suggests that the contemporary series is not, as its title might imply, a simplified version of the earlier show. Rather it is something new, and exciting on its own terms.
Habby Osk’s Stability (2015). Photo: S. Anne Steinberg.
Habby Osk, who grew up in Akureyri and currently lives in New York, shows six works, all made in 2014 or 2015. Most prominent is series of room-high wood strips painted various shades of blue and propped against the wall at irregular angles. Some strips rest their upper ends on large, air-filled plastic bags whereas others have similar bags lying on the floor beneath them. In a promotional photograph, the apex of each wooden rod rests neatly on an air-filled plastic bag. It’s clear, then, that Stability (2015) is a work in motion: over time, the bags are deflating, releasing their rod to the wall, and slipping to the floor.
Habby Osk’s Checker (2015). Photo: S. Anne Steinberg.
Another work consists of three-dimensional Olympic rings arranged on their edges in a deliberate but unintelligible pattern on the floor, as if a group of children in the middle of a novel game were suddenly called home. There is also a video piece in which a pair of hands fight to push air out of a balloon. Checker (2015) consists of a black-and-white pattern usually seen as flooring, turned vertical and mounted on a pedestal.
All of these pieces reference impermanence and the contingency of things. But the struggle between order and chaos is never vilified. Instead, these delightful, insouciant sculptures suggest that not only is this permanent stand-off the stuff of life, it may well be what makes it worth living.
Detail of Baldur Geir Bragason’s I, II and III (2015). Photo: S. Anne Steinberg.
Reykjavík-based Baldur Geir Bragason’s equally fresh installation, I,II and III (2015) includes four columns, topped by smaller columns that are themselves topped by yet smaller columns, arranged in an isosceles trapezoid in the center of the room. Four rectangular crates—from which the columns could have emerged—are placed at irregular intervals around the periphery.
Initially, this seems a straight-forward comment on subject-hood: supporters and holders claim theirs. But details emerge on further viewing. For instance, there is copious number-play. The back two columns are topped with a I and a II, whereas the front two double their sum, crowning themselves with two IIIs. Two of the crates are two planks wide, but the remaining two are three planks wide.
It’s also true that on one diagonal, the columns are simple rectangles, whereas on the other, the columns have flared bases. In the corner, there is a small sculptural riff on the broken wine glass emblem for “fragile” that appears on the boxes. At first, the large, handmade-looking nails protruding from the crates seem scary, reminders of death. But the nails are also lovely, miniature wrought sculptures.
The material world, it seems, harbors more—and more pleasure—than one might think.
Sculpture/sculpture continues through January 3.
S. Anne Steinberg – [email protected]
S. Anne Steinberg has been looking at art around Reykjavík for a few years now. Her cryptic notes on this activity can be found on @myndlist_list on Twitter.