Jesus Christ (a figure you might know from art history), there are a lot of new galleries in Reykjavík right now, huh? It used to be easy to write a gallery guide for the city, but now this article is basically a list with a sentence or two about each. Hey, at least that’s better than only having like two live music venues left, right…? Guys…?
From 2015 to our most recent award ceremony, i8 has consistently been named the Best Art Gallery at the Grapevine’s annual Best Of Reykjavík awards. Expect to see conceptual cutting-edge displays from art superstars at this downtown spot. That said, there’s always a sense of fun running through the gallery’s roster, so don’t be afraid this is some elite art hoity-toity academic institution. #i8ForEvery1
If I had to use just one word to describe Hverfisgallerí, it’d be ambitious. Every artist they represent—from the kaleidoscopic Davíð Örn Halldórsson to the bad stitch himself Loji Höskuldsson—consistently tops themselves. If there were a gallery that “rises and grinds”—40 hours a day—it’s this one.
Berg is the number one go-to stop for those looking to quench their contemporary art thirst. They’ve very much nailed down how to create that delightful, all-encompassing contemporary art experience, and you always leave feeling somewhat rejuvenated and smarter. Skip the pool. Head to Berg.
2020 saw the return of FLÆÐI and many flowing happy tears ensured. If you’re looking for up-and-coming, alternative, bourgeoise-elite-gallery-culture-smashing artists, exhibitions, concerts, events, and more, head to Vesturgata. If you’re lucky, there might be some erotic food art on call. ; -)
We’ve long referred to Gallery Port as the dive bar of the Icelandic art scene, in that they are extremely cool and in-the-know and you’d just kind of want to hang out with them were they a person. The Laugavegur space serves up gritty, unusual, eclectic art by people who are extremely cool, in-the-know, and you’d just kind of want to hang out inside were they a gallery. (Sorry for that write-up Gallery Port. We’re a magazine that’s passionate about Reykjavík galleries.)
Hverfisgata 34 (entrance from Laugavegur)
This new kid on the block burst onto the scene with a—pardon our French—really fucking good series of exhibitions this year. Seriously, can we hire whoever books for them? And apparently next year they’ll be showcasing Sigurður Ámundason, Anna Maggý, Kristín Morthens and more… Jeez, calm down. As if we weren’t already fucking impressed.
Núllið—winner of the Hidden Gem at the aforementioned BoR awards—has their finger on the underground art pulse of Reykjavík. To be fair, it’s probably because they are underground. The gallery focuses on new, evocative and subversive Icelandic artists and, in fact, showcases many people’s first exhibitions. Núllið, pls change your name to milljónir.
Is Ásmundarsalur really a gallery? No, but considering the fantastic exhibitions and workshops they hold, we’d posit it’s basically a gallery that also does other non-gallery things (potentially a long-term piece of performance art). We particularly enjoyed Halldór Eldjárn’s plant machine this year, but we love every unexpected thing Ásmundarsalur presents.
The Marshall House: Kling og Bang/Living Art Museum
If you haven’t heard of Kling og Bang or the Living Art Museum, thank God you’re reading this guide as you clearly have no idea what you’re doing with your life and probably don’t even know you’re in Reykjavík. You are. And there is a place called the Marshall house and inside are two of the best galleries in Reykjavík and no matter what exhibit or installation they have on the roster, expect something ambitious and unique—from makeshift karaoke rooms to gardens covered in bees.
NEWCOMER: Mutt Gallery
Taking over the old KronKron store is Mutt Gallery, run by visual arts devotée Júlía Marinósdóttir. The gallery takes its name from the famous Duchamp urinal work—which was signed R. Mutt—and has already showcased two fantastic exhibitions by Úlfur Karlsson and Shu Yi. We say, what a moment in time for art in Reykjavík and we cannot wait to see what they do next.
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