Exhibition of Landsbankinn’s Kjarval collection in Austurstræti 11
Landsbankinn has opened an exhibition of 24 pieces from its collection by Jóhannes S. Kjarval. The exhibition is located in the Bank's Austurstræti 11 branch and is open during office hours.
One of Kjarval's first projects upon returning home to Iceland from Denmark in 1920 was to paint portraits of the first four CEOs of Landsbankinn. He was subsequently commissioned to create the murals featuring the fisheries heritage in Iceland on the second floor of the new building, constructed in the wake of the Great Reykjavík Fire of 1915. Throughout his lifetime, Kjarval was in regular contact with the Bank, both as a customer and on a personal level, for a time making his home in Austurstræti, across the street from the Bank. In time, Landsbankinn amassed one of the largest private collections of Kjarval's work in existence, totalling over 70 pieces.
Following the Kjarval exhibition, further exhibitions will be arranged, featuring key pieces by Icelandic artists in the Bank's collection as part of the series Gallery Landsbankinn: Visual Arts Legacy.
Curator is Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson, art historian.
About the artist
Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval (1885-1972) was without doubt Iceland's most revered and unique 20th century artist. His artistic legacy is vast and encompasses landscapes, visionary paintings and figurative works, all of which tends to merge in huge and complex paintings. In Kjarval's visionary work he is inspired by local myths, folklore and poetry, and his expressive landscapes did much to change the attitude of his countrymen towards the harsh and forbidding Icelandic highlands.
While Kjarval can be called the most "Icelandic" of local painters, he was not averse to borrowing and putting to good use in his work features from French impressionism and symbolism, cubist deconstruction of form and futurist experiments. Yet, even at its most derivative, his work is characterized by a very personal mood, by turns irreverent and elegiac. One of Reykjavík's largest exhibition spaces now bears the artist's name and regularly features his work.