Ragnheidur Jónsdóttir
The Fluttering of the Butterflies

by Adalsteinn Ingólfsson

During recent years one has at times felt that too many Icelandic artists were doing anything but that which they can do best and which is most natural for them.

Designers of advertisements, graphic artists, even weavers appear to feel an urge for painting, but ceramics artists and goldsmiths cannot rest until they have made a niche for themselves as sculptors.

In this respect the artists are naturally being prodded by an urgent need. But they are rarely doing themselves or others a favour by means of artistic digressions of this nature. The result most frequently appears in the form of artistic compromise.

Ragnheidur Jónsdóttir, the graphic artist, does not, on the other hand, have to be ashamed of her thirteen large charcoal drawings which she is currently exhibiting in the basement of the Nordic House until next Sunday evening. These do, however, greatly differ from most of that which she has done hitherto in her graphic art.

This is not a case of pictures having a symbolic, arch-typical or literary appearance, but clear and direct variations of natural motives, having been enlarged and stylized.

Hollows and Footpaths

At first grance these motives do not appear to yield much artistic bonus. Among these the viewer feels that he sees small and not so prominent phenomena, such as grassy tops, hollows, footpaths between tussocks or outgrown grass which levels with the ground like hair.

In Ragnheidur’s treatment and the principally through her forceful drawing with its rich nuances, these motives are intensified to a reduced edition of the world.

It is as if this reflect the upheavals of the forces of nature, the heavy swell at the coast, the moraine of the glacier at the foot of the mountain, a cyclone at the horizon, the swirl of the sea, but also those moments when nature appears as the image of all that which most worth striving for in life, the utopia which the idealists of all ages have allowed themselves to dream.

A Solid World

This world of pictures is so solid that the most minor items are of equal importance to those of the greatest dimensions and the viewer has the feeling that the slightest deviation may have unforeseen consequences. Involuntarily there enter one’s mind, lyric descriptions by modern scientists of the effects which even the flutterings of the smallest butterflies are said to have on the international scene.

Published in DV April 27 1990.