Reykjavík Art Museum – Kjarvalsstaðir – is dedicated to Iceland’s most famous modern artist, Jóhannes S. Kjarval (1885-1972). The building is a low-slung utilitarian structure that might be taken for a rec center as it is set in a neighborhood park. Inside feels – and looks – much more like a modern art gallery, with clean spare lines in wood and concrete, floor to ceiling windows in the courtyard cafe and shop area, and large open galleries.
The exhibit featured works from the artist’s entire career. They were selected from a private collection and the Museum’s collection. After spending some time in the countryside, I was particularly taken with his landscapes and how they captured the feeling of the color, texture and light, giving a real sense of place, beyond a strict representation.
I also enjoyed the works he had done on his studio walls! “No, I started by painting white over the wallpaper that was here when I arrived. And then I’ve sometimes scribbled something here when I’ve been in a bad, or a good, mood – and I sometimes feel that on the wall there I’ve painted my most adequate pictures.”
The Museum further endeared itself by having an art program for kids, and then, on a bibliographic information sign about Kjarval there was the following quote, “Art is too serious to be taken seriously.” THEN! When I got back to the apartment, I realized that one of the paintings the host parents had was a Kjarval! How cool is that?!