Iceland’s New Erró: Ethoríó

Iceland’s New Erró: Ethoríó

Jóhanna Pétursdóttir
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Published November 11, 2016

Ethoríó is one of Keflavík’s hidden gems. A ruby-red, bubblegum-pink, doom-pop-art-making, gold-sunglass-toting gem. I took it upon myself to chat with him about his art and his alter ego as an artist.

The shock of the new

One of his most striking paintings is “A Small Man With Big Power,” a portrait of former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. During the Panama Papers scandal, it was revealed that Sigmundur sold his half of an offshore company to his wife for $1. Ethoríó’s painting of the disgraced pol, the first to go at a recent exhibition, sold for a similarly whopping $1 to “an old man with a 15-year-old dollar in his pocket.”

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Ethoríó’s mom wasn’t too fond the painting, scared that “he would get sued.” He himself doesn’t seem too worried about it, though: when I want to be sure I can mention the painting in the article, he replies, “YES, please do. I hope he sees it.”

Provocation is a major goal of Ethoríó’s artwork. “I want to shock and tell the truth,” he explains. “I usually work with what’s happening in the world, politically and socially.” When I ask him about his political views, he just replies, “I know nothing of them. I just hear rumours and I paint by them.”

It’s not just politics at which Ethoríó’s art takes aim, but also the mentality of the people in the country. He points to a painting titled “The Over-Judgemental People of Iceland.” “That’s my opinion in this painting. There’s only 1% that doesn’t judge. That’s the guy with the glasses.” Another critique of the ugly side of the Icelandic population comes via “The Sketch of Disrespect,” a view of people taking selfies in inappropriate places like graveyards.

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No country is safe from the judgement of his artwork. In “Pray For Paris,” Ethorió parodies the attacks of September 11, with Hallgrímskirkja standing in for the Twin Towers and Mohamed standing in for Leif Eriksson.

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Alter ego-driven

He visualizes his alter ego with three symbols: dots, two lines and a triangle. The dots represent the handwork in his art, the lines reflect drumming and his connection with music, and the triangle mirrors his thought process.

Ethoríó wears his own invented symbolism. He tattooed the two lines on his arm and burned two dots into his hands. I ask him if it hurt. “Anything for the arts,” he replies. He also wears glasses when he shows his art. “They’re supposed to reflect the reality. I never show my eyes.”

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Found in the arts

Ethorió has been painting for eleven years but really got into it when he was about sixteen years old. “I tried every sport but never really found myself,” he recalls. “In the arts, that’s where I found myself. It’s the only thing that keeps me going.” His grandmother is the only other member of his family with a knack for the arts: she started painting when she was about 80. The one painting he has of hers is very dear to him.

The first Pop Art painting Ethorió saw was by the most prominent Pop artist in Icelandic history, Erró. From then on it was all about Pop Art for the young Ethorió. He counts Erró as one of his main inspirations, along with Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí and any other artist that challenged political and social standards.

Check out his Instagram @ethorio to see more of this upcoming artist.


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