On a scale of one to ten, the need to import creativity to a city like Reykjavík lingers somewhere around a meagre half point. Thousands of artists, musicians, designers, writers, actors, directors, thinkers and self-proclaimed creative heads make it difficult for less established foreign artists to get heard, seen, or to get any kind of reaction, let alone recognition. For this reason, the response to the exhibition by Michael Page, a 25-year-old painter from San Francisco, caught our attention.
Unpretentious and shy, he managed to set up his first European solo exhibition at Gel Galleri last month. His paintings, featuring oversized heads, deformed features, skulls and worms battling against the beauty in nature, presented both sides of his subjects, the dark and the beautiful, the repelling and the attractive.
On his way out of town after a successful show, he asked for recommendations as to which galleries in Reykjavík were best for local talent. Reciting the overwhelming list, his face saddened. When told about the Art Forum in Berlin, where 50 Icelandic artists presented their works, his expression turns into resignation: “I wish I could see it all.”