Ingibjörg Sigurjónsdóttir: Mon ciel, mi cielo. What do you really mean?

June 17 – September 6th, 2020

Skaftfell Center for Visual Art’s summer exhibition will be with the Reykjavik based artist Ingibjörg Sigurjónsdóttir (b. 1985). For this project she has chosen to show–alongside her own drawings, digital prints and small scale sculptures–the work of Benedikt Guðmundsson (1907-1960), whose modernist paintings and ceramics she grew up around. 

Ingibjörg Sigurjónsdóttir’s works are concerned with ‘the basic gesture of making art and the fundamental building blocks of it – line, colour, composition’ but have the sense of being part of a narrative which is only glimpsed in fragments. The title of the exhibition comes from a text written by Ingibjörg, in which she says ‘meaning hides undiscovered in insignificant things’. Ingibjörg’s attention is to the slight gestures in drawing and the passed over details of everyday life. 

Her choice to pair her own work with that of Benedikt Guðmundsson’s concerns a shared attention to the basic nature of art making but also, for Ingibjörg, his life and work is a representation of time, distance and absence which relates to all creative practices. For Ingibjörg ‘there is something beautiful about the dedication of all artists, making work which will most likely become forgotten and then lost. There is a beauty of making all of this work for the great vastness of oblivion… something in me finds it rather interesting and beautiful. It has something to do with the core of why we make any work in the first place and what it means to be an artist.’

Ingibjörg was born in 1985 and obtained a BA degree from the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Fine Arts dept. in 2010. She currently lives and works in Reykjavík, and is a board member of the artist run Kling & Bang gallery, Reykjavík. She has exhibited extensively with exhibitions in: Reykjavik, Isafjordur, Miami, Basel and Vienna. She has also curated various exhibitions for Kling & Bang as well as Reykjavik Art Museum.

Benedikt Guðmundsson was a prolific artist born in Reykjavík in 1907. As a young man he was sent to Germany and Denmark to study the practical trade of butchery but used his time to take courses in visual art and visit museums. He made bold paintings, delicate pastel drawings and was an amateur photographer. He ran one of the first ceramics workshops in Iceland, Sjónarhóll (1947-1952), where he designed and painted much that was produced there, using locally sourced clay. After a long day at his butcher shop he would dedicate the nights to his artwork. A circle of professional and amateur artist friends met regularly to discuss art and make paintings on their laps in the living room of Benedikt’s family’s small apartment. Frequent visitors included: Gunnlaugur Scheving, Jóhannes Pálsson, Jóhann Sigurðsson and Þorvaldur Skúlason. Þorvaldur instructed Benedikt in his art for some time.

In his lifetime he had solo exhibitions at Listamannaskálinn, Mokkakaffi and Safnahúsið and was working on an exhibition before his death in 1960, at age 53. His friends and family completed his plans by organizing an exhibition at Bogasalur in the National Museum where visitors could see, to quote the exhibition’s catalogue, “the fruit of his wakeful nights and artistic dreams, after the bourgeois had gone to bed”.