07. August 2015 til 30. August 2015

Þormóður Karlsson - Yfirlitssýning

Encounters I took a walk at my favorite time of day. In the twilight I wandered on, aimlessly, and found myself lost in a shadow. The debris of civilization was having a party. The music being played was the one of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. Þormóður Karlsson (1958-2000)

These lines by Móði describe an encounter at dusk. The artist takes comfort in the changing light and what he finds there is a strange union of sinister and camp. What follows is not clear. Móði leaves it to his audience to speculate on the nature of this encounter and its consequences.

Móði described working on his paintings as a balancing act in which intuition is allowed to gather its clues from serendipity. Suspending the operation of conscious decision and allowing image to come before thought. He would lay down the colour fields and allow images to suggest themselves in their surface and composition, building up layers and eliciting the image to be more clearly delineated as the painting took shape.

The outcome is a depiction of tentacled creatures exploring a bleak environment. Their voluptuous figures have lush tropical colours in contrast to their frigid surroundings. This recurrence suggests a thematic coherence but refuses to illustrate any single idea. Neither is it mere empty patterning because only through experience and by surrendering to the process with confidence and skill can images breed new forms that never pass through the circuit of knowledge but arrive as it were ´from the gut.´ These dandy rovers are therefore not involved in any particular narrative but share a preference for having their strange encounters in the twilight.

The titles also suggest encounters of some sorts; Chance meeting (image on page…) Goldfinger/Who are you image and Every now and then a little thing goes by/As the curtain goes down image. One title or two discrepent titles for some of the paintings and none for others. But the titles also betray their origin with the music Móði was enjoying at the time of painting. Song lyrics get pulled out of the air while painting and become part of the work. The music of Lee Hazlewood, Dusty Springfield and many many more provided the soundtrack to Móði´s encounter with his materials and he described enjoying it tremendously.

All this was taken from him in a sensless act of violence that nearly ended his life and brought an abrupt ending to his nascent career. Móði was assaulted in 1988 in New York and barely escaped with his life but never painted again. 

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It had still been a practical necessity to go abroad to get a degree and pursue a career in the visual arts when Móði found his vocation. And certainly there were other reasons to venture out into the wider world at the time. For a taste of bohemia and adventure – and for a welcome escape from the provincial mind that holds sway in small communities. Móði went abroad to revel in the iridescent joy of  irony and develop his discerning taste for spiky riposte. Every now and then he would return and alter the texture of the world around him with his characteristic generosity and warmth – or clash with it on account of his more acerbic streak. It is worthwhile remembering him like that and to take pleasure in how it now seems possible to register an instance of this nature in the work he left behind.



Karl Ómarsson

Seoul 2015

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