From Iceland — Visual Arts Are Booming And Christmas Is Coming!

Visual Arts Are Booming And Christmas Is Coming!

Published December 2, 2022

Visual Arts Are Booming And Christmas Is Coming!
Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

“This will be the creme de la creme,” says Árni Már Erlingsson, visual artist and one of the owners of Gallery Port, when asked whose work will be featured in this year’s Christmas market. The gallery has gained a lot of attention over the years for introducing new and upcoming artists to the nation, so it’s yearly Christmas market—opening December 3rd—is not to be missed. The market has been running since 2016, but this year’s event comes after a pandemic-era spree in which Icelanders were buying art in bulk. All of the best artists will have their works on display in the market, and, what’s more, it’s a buyers’ market these days.

Screw Spain, buy art!

We have to start the conversation about the unusual success of visual arts during the pandemic. I mean, what the hell happened?

“Everybody was just at home rearranging their living room,” Árni Már explains and laughs. “The beginning of the pandemic looked awful, but all of a sudden people had much more money because they weren’t going to Spain for summer vacation, and visual artists benefited from this.”

Photo by Art Bicnick

Young people are investing in the future

Árni says that one of the most interesting things he noticed was that younger people are buying art more than before. “And I don’t know why, perhaps some people are doing this as an investment—and you can make some pretty impressive gains from this—but I think many are just looking for an interesting experience.”

Árni adds that this is a good time for investors and collectors to buy art. There is a new and very active generation of artists coming up and now is the opportunity before the next big hype emerges.

80 artists, but that could be a lie

“I think I’m not lying to you when I state that there are around 80 artists that are participating in the market,” he says. Most of the artists are a new generation of Icelandic visual artists, so It’s safe to say that it will both be affordable, as well as interesting and original.

“We are also so lucky to have an artist with us named Joe Keys from Newcastle. He will curate a specific show, called Laufabrauð [the name for our traditional Leaf bread],” Árni says, explains that the participants will add even more to the range of visual artists in Iceland.

Could be running four galleries

The market has become a standard stop for Icelanders in past years, because of the interesting range one can find in the gallery, and when asked if the gallery is becoming too small, Árni agrees. “I could probably be running three to four galleries full time, but the problem is, of course, that not all of them would be great, so we focus on this, and try to show the best you can find in the community.”

Photo by Art Bicnick

Baking competition?

Árni Már is unusually festive these days, and he says that they are even thinking about having a leaf bread-baking competition. And when you think about it, it actually makes sense for visual artists, because the bread has beautiful shapes carved out in it, and could be a brilliant canvas for an inventive artist.

“But, however it goes, Skarphéðinn Bergþóruson, Dóra Hrund Gísladóttir and I will greet anyone that comes between 12:00 and 17:00 on December 3rd,” Árni says in the end.

The market will open on the 3rd of December and is at Laugavegur 32.

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