At various Icelandic art schools, designer/fashionista Óli has a reputation. Having focused his art in the direction of the greater community, he has worked in various underground art/video collectives, been an integral member in the formation of independent galleries, and has many of his street pieces featured in various books, including the recent troublemaker “Icepicks.” I forgot to add that Óli is only in his mid-twenties.
Recently, in what might have been a Ginsberg-like epiphany, Óli realised his sizable contribution to the blossoming Reykjavík art community. He concluded that it was time to do something ironically entrepreneurial. It was time to introduce a new gallery unit to the art scene: Gallery Crush. The decision to open up his own independent art gallery/ music venue/ clothing and magazine store might put him in the running for Reykjavík’s most iconoclastic. And this is Iceland, so that would put him pretty high in the running for most iconoclastic worldwide.
Gallery Crush is a small shop conveniently placed atop the hipster-frequented, fashion/record haven Rokk og Rósir at Laugavegur 28. Upon entering the gallery, one would think that the whole thing had been moved straight from the scenester-infested streets of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. As a matter of fact, Óli has close ties with artists, clothing designers and independent publishers in New York and is perennially making trips to the city for items to sell or showcase. I’m sure he picks up a few ideas on the way.
The current exhibition at the gallery is an installation titled ‘Seagulls’, by local sculptors Arnar Ásgeirsson and Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson. The work is in response to city hall’s recent experiments in poisoning the flocks of hungry seagulls that haunt the upper pond. Clay, faceless seagulls scatter a huge table with real rocks. Óli tells me that a seagull and a zine about seagulls (a mock 2-for-1 deal) are on sale for 3,000 ISK.
Gallery Crush is also a clothing store with Óli’s personal line, and a few intensely patterned hoodies (12,900 ISK) from a line called ‘Pretty Shitty’, which is based out of New York. In what might be a sardonic nod to Lesley Gore, Óli has titled his own small clothing line ‘Sunshine and Lollipops’. Though only in its infancy, ‘Sunshine and Lollipops’ has a number of unique shirts and hoodedsweatshirts. Óli uses old B-movie monster film covers for many of his T-shirts (which range from 3,500 to 4,400 ISK.) One hoody is taken from the cover of an old 70’s porno called Dude. All of the items are screen printed by Óli, so no two shirts are the same. Some even have intentional smears and blotches, to better the DIY authenticity of the brand.
Aside from clothes, Gallery Crush has of miscellany that makes it seem more like a cool personal space than a gallery. Old action figures decorate the far wall, and a table stands in the middle with hard-to-find Icelandic zines, street art books, and an obscure New York magazine called Frank, which is basically what Vice magazine wants to be.
The walls of Gallery Crush are noticeably white, a part of Óli’s scheme: “I want the clothing to hang up on the wall like graffiti.” Upon a closer look, Gallery Crush’s walls really do seem to resemble the hidden alleyways of the city centre.
Like all good entrepreneurs, Óli has created a Myspace for his business and clothing line at www.myspace. com/sunshineandlollys. The URL was shortened to ‘lollys’, of course, because ‘sunshineandlollipops’ was already taken by a 57 year old man from New Jersey