Jón Proppé
A curator, teacher and critic, Jón Proppé has in recent years directed several exhibitons, as well as writing and lecturing widely on art, philosophy and cultural issues. He currently writes art criticism for the Reykjavik daily Morgunbladid and is general editor of the art.is web site.

Born in Hafnarfjördur, Iceland, in 1962, Jón Proppé studied philosophy at the University of Illinois and spent eight years in the United States and Britain. Since returning to Iceland in 1987 he has worked as editor in several publishing houses and as curator and art critic, in addition to teaching art history at the University College of Education in Reykjavik.

Jón Proppé has written extensively about art and his interests cover a wide spectrum, from the historical to the most contemporary currents in art. Much of his research, though, has focused on abstraction in art, both in painting and in more concept-based works. He has also written and lectured on the nature of criticism and the relationship of art and critical discourse.

A quote from a paper Proppé delivered at a conference on art criticism in 1996 can perhaps best exemplify his concerns on these issues: ‘A word as soon as it is spoken and a work of art as soon as it is offered up for view and comment transcends any such simple model of understanding. The original cannot simply be pointed out with a gesture that at the same time imperiously sweeps away the chaff of opinion and surmise. The original must be sought not outside or beyond the rhizomatic confusion of discourse, reference and representation, but in it. If the critic is indeed to seek the truth of the work he must do so in the discourse of which the work becomes a part as soon as it leaves the artist’s hands. Only by acknowledging this can we understand what we are doing, and only thus can we hope to learn to do it better.’

The Disappearing Original
Critic Jón Proppé reflects on the relationship of artworks and critical discourse, raising some doubts about the former’s claim to privileged status.
Circumscribing the Abstract