Artist Of The Year: Eygló Harðardóttir Reflects On Her Career - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Artist Of The Year: Eygló Harðardóttir Reflects On Her Career

Artist Of The Year: Eygló Harðardóttir Reflects On Her Career

Published March 22, 2019

Aliya Uteuova
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Eygló Harðardóttir’s art is difficult to classify in one word. A mixed media visual artist, she has worked with wood, glass, and more; explored the features of masks; and made sculptures for bar guests to play with while drinking.

Her latest exhibition, ‘Another Space,’ which ran at the Living Art Museum last fall, won her Iceland’s Artist Of The Year award, the jury of which included Margrét Kristín Sigurðardóttir, the Chairman of the Icelandic Visual Arts Council, and other prominent art experts.

Finding the spark

When Eygló got the offer to display at the Living Art Museum, she was silkscreening her art book ‘Another Space.’ “I used the book as a spark,” she says. The art book has no beginning or end and can be rearranged to be viewed right side up or upside down. Eygló’s exhibition was similar, allowing the view to rearrange the pieces presented according to their own impressions.

“You need to have courage to enter the unknown.”

And so, the primary material for ‘Another Space’ was paper. The work explores the idea of parallel consciousness, reflecting on various questions of space, both psychological and physical. Each image was inspired by different parts of the body—neck, heart, stomach, and so on—which were then transformed into layered prints. Through that, she created a thread journeying into another space, hence the title.

“Paper is lightweight, easy to handle, but not easy to buy here in Iceland,” says Eygló. Because she prefers to touch the material and choose from samples, she sometimes brings paper from abroad, the latest coming from New York. “I should think about Finland too,” she jokes.

Into the unknown

The job of an artist can be just as unglamourous. There are many unknowns, such as when the work will be done, or what will the yearly salary will be. Behind the scenes, artists write proposals, apply for grants, and take photos of their work. “It’s a non-stop process,” Eygló shares. “But you need to have courage to enter the unknown.”

And enter the unknown she did—Eygló created some pieces under a state of hypnosis. This enhanced focus and concentration helped her experience another space as closely as she could.

Creating in darkness

Eygló tends to create in the summertime. “There’s so much light and energy,” she says. “It can be challenging to be an artist in Iceland in winter. But when there’s an exhibition, you do whatever you need to do. You don’t let the darkness take over.”

At her openings, Eygló often feels like an alien. “I cannot think about myself as the artist who made this,” she explains. While seeing her art on display might feel strange for her, exploring other people’s art is her favourite pastime. “That’s how I relax from making art—by enjoying art,” Eygló says.

It’s no joke

Eygló’s career spans over two decades, but she only began to receive positive recognition over the last three years. “It’s a surprise, but it’s often like that,” she says.

In fact, when she found out that she was nominated for the award, she momentarily thought it might be a joke. “I didn’t know if it was real or not,” Eygló shares. “But then I just took it as it is, set it aside, and continued my work.”

And so she did. In 2019, Eygló is preparing for two exhibitions and participating in a special project with eight visual artists, filmmakers and writers.

“This award didn’t turn me upside down, but I’m grateful for it,” Eygló says. She appreciates all the nominees, and wouldn’t have minded if one of them received it. “This is for the art,” she finishes, “and not for me.”

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