|The Artist Gudjón Bjarnason
By Thor Vilhjálmsson
This expansive artist does not tolerate stasis. He fights against stagnation on every front. Well educated and broad-minded he works in many materials, handling each as he sees fit and as fits its character. But the work reveals fertile critical connections so that each period in his art is complete, yet echoes with polyphonic dimensions.
He struggles with spaces. A rose is a rose is a rose, said Gertrude Stein. A sign is a sign is a sign, says Gudjón, and the signs gain strength through discipline, yet hide their inner spaces, reserving them for a more critical inquiry. On his works he engraves a dance of symbols, living forms that speak, insistent and impatient, against those ingrained ideas that have become but empty and oppressive – mere impatience that will smother innovation if it goes unchallenged. In opposition, Gudjón composes new signs that become signs of themselves, deconstruct themselves and construct new signs, a new level of meaning.
The search never ends; life demands an agile awareness – thought and perception that will hold no reserve. To create and destroy at once so that something new may emerge. Everything is subject to alert inquiry before it may congeal, petrify. Die. Thus even destruction must be systematic and conscious in order for the new to be born of a new order that has driven out the old in time, before it could conceal life and bury it.
The old is driven out, pushed away to clear the road for a new world of dreams to germinate. Consciousness is freed from standardised forms that no longer signify but have become merely a burden, so systematically deadening that they might be called a living death, did not one exclude the other.
This urgent destruction, aiming for a close approximation of creation, constructs new signs in order to marshal them against the old – in order to forge systematically a new meaning. Ceaselessly.
Thor Vilhjálmsson has published numerous novels, essay collections and autobiographical works. He was awarded the Nordic Prize for Literature.
Text © Thor Vilhjálmsson
Artworks © Gudjón Bjarnason
|Installation in Hafnarborg, 1993|
|This expansive artist does not tolerate stasis. He fights against stagnation on every front.|
|The old is driven out, pushed away to clear the road for a new world of dreams to germinate.|