Sigurdur Gudmundsson

A key to our own poetry

In looking at Sigurdur Gudmundsson's sculpture Havsøye at the beach promenade at Sortland, the basic shapes that make up the sculpture are its most prominent feature: the boat, the house, and the diamond-shaped opening through the centre of the house. The opening is like a window that has been pulled and placed diagonally. At the same time, this opening frames the beautiful fjord and mountain range behind the sculpture. By an optical displacement, the scenery appears to move closer to the viewpoint, and, at the same time, the sculpture frames the landscape, converting nature to culture; it takes on the characteristics of a landscape painting or photograph.

The artwork plays with polished, semi-polished and unpolished surfaces. The last creates a sense of material presence, whereas the first reflects the surroundings and the ever-changing light. In a way, these different textures highlight the different expressions of the beautiful black granite, which was broken from a local quarry and cut on site.

A distinguishing feature of Gudmundsson's art is his fascination with various artistic techniques. He has explored the possibilities of photography as a way to document his one-man performance art through still images. He has created sculptures from rock, metal, bronze and brick, and he has explored some highly unorthodox combinations of materials. He is rarely proficient at any of these techniques himself, and as an artist is is more comparable to a conductor than a craftsman. He is a skilled conductor, however, and he can motivate others to play their instruments well by showing genuine appreciation for their knowledge and expert craftsmanship. He conducts their “performances” so as to realize his own poetic visions, dreams and memories.

Sigurdur Gudmundsson creates large-scale sculptures, which often spin narratives related to nature and culture. The sculpture appears to be part of a vast, universal canvas, on which all of history is being planned, painted, carved. The dimensions of Gudmundsson's artworks are monumental, and play a key role in the narrative he applies. Another, similar distinguishing feature is the presence of the type of broad horizons typical of Icelandic landscapes. These landscapes are desolate, yet have a unique, solemn boldness, which is reflected in his visual thinking and the way he places sculptures in a space. The objects really take centre stage in his world: You see the outline of every hill, rock and house. They are surrounded by vast areas of empty space, which means that each object has its own, clearly identifiable visual expression. He rarely seems too concerned with exactly where the object is placed; instead he trusts its presence and visibility in all circumstances.

His vision converts everything to poetry or provides us with keys to unlock our own poetry. The sculpture at Sortland provides us with keys to unlock our own narratives of houses, boats and diamond shapes, which are associated with journeys in cards. The deck is shuffled and ready for the flight of our own imagination and for us to create our own memories.
By Maaretta Jaukkuri

About the artwork

My work is not a reproduction
of an event I have experienced.

I am not that rich in experiences.

My work is not a visual translation
of knowledge I have gathered.

I am not that knowledgeable.

My work is a personal memory
of something I have not experienced.

My work aims to be a coagulated memory
where the event is free to seek its own memory.

Sigurdur Gudmundssons

Born: 1942, in Reykjavik, Iceland
: 1960-63 Myndlista- og handídaskóli, Reykjavik, Iceland, 1963-64 Academie'63 Haarlem, the Netherlands
Lives and works
: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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