The Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève is happy to present the first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland of Icelandic artist Hreinn Friðfinnsson. With more than seventy works, To Catch a Fish with a Song: 1964–Today celebrates this understated but major artist, looking back on more than half a century of his inventive practice.
Hreinn Friðfinnsson’s work is celebrated for both its lyricism and its stark poetry, which transcends the often-commonplace subjects and materials he uses to create his pieces. He has sometimes been compared to artists working in Conceptual and Romantic Conceptual modes. Indeed, his practice shows a certain kinship with these movements; for example, it is grounded in the dematerialization of art and has strong links to landscape and natural phenomena. Nevertheless, the Icelandic artist has remained decidedly independent. Friðfinnsson’s work does not incorporate a critical stance toward art, and the artist eschews strict protocols for interpreting his works; for him, art-making has something compulsive to it.
Friðfinnsson is a kind of idiosyncratic alchemist. With subtle gestures, he uses the exhibition space as a stage upon which to transform time, space (including the space of the imagination), objects, the rational, and the irrational into captivating yet humble miracles.
Although there is a consistency of theme and a common emotional thread running through Friðfinnsson’s art, the media that he employs are remarkably varied in scale and substance. These include photography, drawings, tracings, and presentations as well as installations of sound, texts, and ready-mades. Throughout the profusion of media and subjects he addresses, Friðfinnsson’s practice maintains a unique character; his economy of means goes hand in hand with a poetic, elusive, and at times humorous language.
The first comprehensive monograph on the artist accompanies the exhibition (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter König, 2019, English). This richly illustrated volume, edited by Andrea Bellini and Krist Gruijthuijsen, includes an interview conducted by the editors, new essays by Ivana Bago, Luca Cerizza, and Cassandra Edlefsen Lasch, as well as a complete chronology and bibliography compiled by Sara De Chiara.
Born in 1943 in Baer Dölum, Iceland, Hreinn Friðfinnsson has lived in Amsterdam since 1971. He has had solo exhibitions at Kunstverein Graz (2014), Bergen Kunstmuseum and Malmö Konsthall (2008), the Reykjavik Art Museum, Hafnarhús(2007), and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2007). In 1993 he exhibited at the National Gallery of Iceland in Reykjavik, the same year he represented Iceland in the Venice Biennale. In 2012 he participated in the São Paulo Biennial.
The exhibition is organized in partnership with KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, where it will be on view between September 28, 2019 and January 5, 2020.