The entrance to Gallery Port — through a narrow passage leading off Laugavegur—has that special feeling of leading to something hidden away. Once inside, however, the wooden floors and high ceilings create an airy exhibition space.
Árni Már Erlingsson is the artist who owns and runs the gallery. I find him sitting in his office—a little mayhem of creativity—wearing a striking red hat. Every inch of the space is filled with paint and empty coffee cups, and the walls are lined with paintings. He smiles and welcomes me inside.
Árni is working on his upcoming exhibition in Listamenn Galleri, located not far away on Skúlagata. “The concept of the exhibition is the sea,” he says, gesturing to the paintings leaning against the gallery wall. “I really love the sea. I started to go sea swimming three years ago. It started out as being a challenge and I like that. And then I just got hooked on it.”
Árni doesn’t only feel connected to the sea through enjoying it. “I also have some spiritual ideas, just about life,” he says. “I like having something more powerful in my life than myself. Some years ago, I tried to figure out what that could be. Basic religions don’t work out for me. I was standing in a garden in Germany, and I thought: ‘Of course! The sea, the nature, all of these things, they’re much more powerful than me.’” He laughs, almost blushing. “It’s such a cliché, being an artist and having all those ideas about nature.”
Content of his current artwork
Árni approached this classic subject from some characteristically interesting angles. “When making art, I don’t want to do a bunch of paintings just by taking photos of the sea,” he explains. “I want to create a resemblance of it, in colors, in brushstrokes.” He points to the tattoo on his arm—three wavy lines in different shades of blue. “I’m doing three paintings showing these waves,” he continues. “It will show an adding up of waves — the rising of the sea levels.”
The exhibit will also include screen prints. “They include waves, but they look more like a musical .WAV file,” he says. “I don’t just want perfect little waves, like they’re supposed to be.”
Don’t take it so seriously
So, what does Árni want people to take away from the exhibition? “First of all, I’d like people not to take it so seriously,” he says. “Sometimes there’s some huge concept and you have to know the artist and his works, but sometimes it’s just about going in there and enjoying it,” he smiles. “Or not! You don’t need somebody else to tell you about the reasons why a painting is nice. It is about what you take out of it yourself. It’s shallow, it’s not deep art. I just wanted to do something nice.”
‘Öldur Aldanna’ is open from Nov. 10th at 16:00 until Nov. 30th at Listamenn, Skúlagata 32. The opening will also feature musician Högni Egilsson.