Wondrous Happenings

Karólína Lárusdóttir


Wondrous Happenings


Introduction

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Karólína Lárusdóttir working on an etching plate in Linda Richardson’s studio, undated, possibly c.2007. Photograph by Linda Richardson


‘Through sheer obstinacy I managed to discover the kinds of faces I wanted, faces that were both general and specific. They are plain and unaffected by their circumstances, by the demands made upon them by society at large. To me, they are emblematic of the restraint and resourcefulness of the common Icelanders throughout history. My people are earthy, sometimes without grace, but they are always without pretence.’

















Karólína Lárusdóttir working at the press in Linda Richardson’s studio. Photograph by Linda Richardson (?)

The etchings


Hotel Borg


As the granddaughter to a strongman of a travelling circus and owner of Hotel Borg, Reykjavik’s first grand hotel, Karólína Lárusdóttir’s work is greatly inspired by her Icelandic upbringing. With regular visits to the Hotel, she was witness to many gatherings and social encounters. Hotel Borg was at one time central to Reykjavik’s social calendar, where society parties and dinners took place. Much of the social custom and their peculiarities are typical subject matter for Lárusdóttir’s etchings; her imagery is often populated by chefs and chambermaids, customers taking tea or dancing, referencing characters frequenting the hotel.












Wondrous Happenings


Karólína Lárusdóttir’s work is underpinned by the other-worldly and mystic elements of Icelandic culture. Using wry humour, she enhances the surreal and timeless qualities of different happenings, depicting stern-looking angels and other mysterious characters that appear in her painterly and colourful etchings.












Scenes of Everyday Life


Karólína Lárusdóttir's strange yet engaging scenes convey her childhood impressions of a country that remains faithful to ancient customs and traditions to this day. It is said that many Icelanders regard self-sufficiency and independence as important personal qualities to have. Coupled with a national pride in their Viking heritage and for many, a belief in a ‘hidden people,’ Iceland’s traditions are a curious blend of no-nonsense stoicism, with the indubitable acceptance of the existence of other forces.




















From a family collection of photographs


‘In my mind I can go into other people’s houses where I visited as a child and walk around and have a look, moving from room to room. I remember all the furniture, the objects on top of the bookshelves, how people sat and stood, the woman who always sat by the telephone and the one who had a fishball suspended on her fork; I remember kitchens and two women who stood in a way that made the light from the window fall to the side of them so they looked strange and dark in the image as I picture it. In my mind I am able to go uninvited into these houses of my childhood and then sit down and paint a picture of what I found on these visits.’

























Afterword


By Sarah Wiseman

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Wondrous Happenings
Karólína Lárusdóttir

Sarah Wiseman Gallery
2nd - 30th March, 2019