“Influences” is the name of his new show at the
Reykjavík Art Museum.
In his list of influences on his homepage, he mentions his childhood in Black County, the Cold War, Expressionism, Surrealism, the paintings of Casper David Friedrich, the books of Franz Kafka (The Trial, in particular), the films of Jaques Tati, the social realism of communism and fascism, the religious paintings of earlier centuries, and Iceland.(Griffin happens to be married to an Icelandic woman, the artist Brynja Sverrisdóttir, and is considering settling here in the future). The current exhibition is his first retrospective collection ever, covering works since the very beginning of his career in 1970. Some of those are specifically dedicated to this personal bond with Iceland- “Iceland inspires me, it’s not in just what I see when I’m here, but how it makes me feel”, he said to Grapevine.
Between truth and fiction
The webpage itself is in modest grey colour, decorated by black silhouettes of birds in motion, trees and grass. His black and white photography often combines strange unrelated images like shoes and cabbage or blood and jewellery, standing on the edge of reality
and fiction, while his colour shots are clean, bold and retro chic. In his advertisement work, the figures on the foreground are often lit by a sharp ray from the side or blurred, with the background appearing deliberately alien. When it comes to portraits, the approach is quite down-to-earth and warmly human. In the series Workers, the men kiss their tools in a personal, dignified way -the knights of everyday life.
Santa Claus under the railway bridge
Griffin got many awards for Claustrofoamia, his first short film: a story of a man’s search in a post-apocalyptic world for Santa Claus´ hiding place under the local railway bridge. The Curl is a symbolic tale about the sexual frustrations which a simple curl of hair on the forehead is able to provoke. Stanley Kubrick plays a role in another story about a gardener and his plot to kill a bunch of gentlemen with the help of a lady and a potato.
Looking at the mass of interesting work displayed, one naturally wonders if there is any self-portrait to be found, but there was none. The works don’t even have titles and are divided by category. Brian shares personal facts such as his father’s death from environmental pollution and the suicide of his friend Barney Bubbles. Genuinely big people don’t need to act big, do they?
photography exhibition by Brain Griffin at the
Reykjavík Art Museum
15. Jan. – 27. Feb. 2005 http://www.listasafnreykjavikur.is/index.en.shtml