Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fredrik Söderberg, Christine Ödlund. ALPHA & OMEGA. 25-ágúst-27. nóvember. 2017. The Hallgrímskirkja Friends of the Arts Society. Reykjavik Iceland.

Fredrik Söderberg, Christine Ödlund. ALPHA & OMEGA. 25-ágúst-27. nóvember.
2017. The Hallgrímskirkja Friends of the Arts Society. Reykjavik Iceland.

Revolutions abound! It is 500 years since the release of Luther's 95
thesis and many churches around the world have celebrations, festivals to
commemorate this event. The Hallgrímskirkja Friends of the Arts Society in
Iceland is no exception to this, and a recent exhibition Alpha & Omega,
displayed the works of two artists from Sweden Christine Ödlund, and
Fredrik Söderberg, artworks which consisted of works on paper.

The medium format watercolor paintings were framed and hung in the foyer
of the church, in the capital city of a country, Iceland, that has seen in
the past decade exponential growth in the tourist sector. And to struggle
to observe the paintings in the entrance way of a church crowded by droves
of tourists is a strange way to view contemporary art indeed, when one
considers the stayed contemplative space that is the norm of a high street
white cube gallery.

Nevertheless Christine Ödlund and Fredrik Söderberg, both exhibited public
examples of private or introverted artworks. Christine Ödlund focused on
representing light, in works entitled "The Calvin Cycle" and "The Narrow
Portal of Photosynthesis", attempting to represent a moment when light is
turned into energy by a plant, and shapes as in the work "Trilobite" which
appear both symbolic and enigmatic at the same time. In the flow and dark
gestures of the rich pigment she uses on her water colors one can imagine
the fluid dynamics of our skies, oceans or the trajectories of planets and
asteroids through space. The dark on dark motif also evokes questions that
preoccupy current work in astro-physics, so called dark matter a catchall
for all matter in our known universe for which we currently have limited
understanding. The deep purple, indigo and black paintings also call to
mind questions about the limits or range surrounding an event horizon near
a singularity. Contemplating Christine Ödlund's work is astonishing
because one can imagine these big events in distant space, and yet they
are represented or evoked on the surface of a paper page.

"Alpha and Omega" is additionally a series of five watercolors that
Fredrik Söderberg, exhibited. Each leaf could read as Stations of the
Cross or a compilation of decorative patterns and traditions that
accompanied different sects of Christianity. The series of works is also
contemplative, in it decorative patterns are grouped thematically around
the Roman church the Eastern Orthodox church, and the Greek church. Each
page echos thought patterns and flavor of the distinct religions. Fredrik
Söderberg is an artist who recently converted to Catholicism and for him,
these water colors are a way to contemplate his faith. In this method as
both private expression of faith, and representation of artist
investigation, the paintings are further examples where Fredrik yet again
combines the cultural heritage of the past into the field or frame of
contemporary art.

Hallgrímkirkju in Iceland is a destination indeed, with organ concerts
choral galas and a view of the city of Reykjavík provided by Isaac
Samuelsson's expressionistic clock tower. All of these are "sights" in the
tradition of a "lonley planet" style guide book. But while you are there
at the chuch at the top of the hill on Skolavegurstigur, you may also
encounter the work of living contemporary artists Icelandic, or from
elsewhere, who make artworks in dialogue with Christianity and the church
going experience as it is today in the 21st century.

by Craniv Boyd.

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