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Exhibition of works by Thór Vigfússon. on view at i8 Gallery
Thór Vigfússon: Exhibition at i8 Gallery, 6 May - 4 June 2016. Courtesy of the artist and i8 Gallery.

by Guðni Tómasson

REYKJAVIK.- It is the nature and magic of visual art that it can at the same time seem simple and complex, fully on the surface while being layered in depth and diverse connections. Whether it is constructed by symbolism, driven by conceptual or historical connotations or trimmed down by minimalistic aesthetics, the fact remains that the visual effect of art is always created in the eye of the beholder. That is why words, that often supplement visual art, are just as likely to get in the way of things.

The art of Þór Vigfússon (b. 1954) is not highly complex even though the technical aspect is often far more troublesome than what meets the eye, and the lively world of colour keeps the eye rather busy. The internal world of this visual art is rather straightforward. It is simply based on two elements: form and colour. But these are no lightweight elements, but in fact the real basis of everything we consider to be the visual arts. The search for the right balance between the two is crucial and eternal and in the works of Vigfússon’s one senses a great longing for some sort of visual solution, though it is a solution that is likely to become even more remote when it is approached.

While experiencing the works one senses the artist’s fascination for industrial technique, for the possibilities of machines that cut and polish the works just as the artist likes them. Vigfússon comes from a family of artisans with a keen eye for details. Even while traveling in around gallery districts of foreign cities he is often drawn to hardware stores where he adds colour-samples to his collection. These eventually come in handy when he has mixed his own colours by hand and has to give the exact details about how the final finish of his works should be.

Colours are a complex phenomenon. Their nature is one of relativity and they have their own physiological, chemical, biological and psychological sides of wonder. The symbolic and cultural connotations of colour and their effect also opens up all sorts of workings that artist have explored in their works through history. In the case of Þór Vigfússon such explorations are not essential and even though he is perfectly aware of them he does not seem to mind them very much. But the eye knows what it wants and the inner workings of the pieces have to make sense to the artist himself.

Confronted with large coloured glassworks that run from the floor up to the ceiling one is inclined to consider connections to two extremes in western art. On the one hand the material itself, the glass plates, evoke thoughts about stained glass in gothic churches where vertical lines are meant to divert all thoughts to the heavens and where mystical daylight fills up the space. Here we are robbed of the translucent quality of the magical material and the use of colour is not based on any mystic or psychological connections. On the other hand the mind wonders to the basic principle of minimalism in visual art around the middle of the 20th century that found its outlet in the works of artists like for example Josef Albers, Barnett Newman and Donald Judd. In his works Þór Vigfússon aligns himself with this tribe of artists with his direct and straightforward art.

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