Newswire Art & Culture

Icelandic Artist Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson Featured at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

On view at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art from February 17 through June 2, 2024. Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson, Fragment, 2018, Silk thread and dyes, 114 x 216 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Abattoir Gallery, Cleveland. Unframed. Photo by Tim Safranek; SOURCE Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Born and raised in Iceland, Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson (b. 1963) has spent the last 30 years creating increasingly ambitious work that veers between abstraction and representation, with deep connections to Iceland’s otherworldly environment. Jónsson’s paintings—she prefers this term to “weavings” or “textiles”— are based on photographs she takes of Icelandic landscapes and seascapes on extended trips there twice a year.

Poetically called the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is dotted with volcanoes, lava fields, geysers, hot springs, glaciers, rainbows, and the magical aurora borealis highlighting the night sky. Jónsson’s exquisite large-scale paintings on a loom evoke this captivating setting, while also contributing to art historical discourses on landscape painting and postwar abstraction, which is a strength of the Bechtler Museum’s permanent collection.

“This exhibition continues the museum’s commitment to highlighting global modernism and its legacies,” said Todd D. Smith, Executive Director, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. “While Jónsson’s work is international, there is a regional resonance in regard to North Carolina’s textile design and production, as well as the legacy of modernist textile design by artists associated with Black Mountain College.”

Organized by the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University, this exhibition features 45 works of art—many of which have never been exhibited—including the artist’s largest and most labor-intensive paintings to date and more intimate watercolors and drawings.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share Jónsson’s work at the Bechtler. As I witnessed firsthand last fall, these woven paintings, many of which engulf the viewer in intense color, create a sense of awe and wonder in nearly everyone who encounters them,” said Andrea Gyorody, Director of Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. “I have no doubt that visitors to this iteration of the exhibition will come away with the same feeling—a newfound reverence for the sublimity of nature and a deep respect for Jónsson’s rigorous, moving practice.”

Jónsson begins her process by framing what she sees with her camera, further cropping selected images in her studio, distilling form through preparatory drawings, intensifying the palette, and finally painting silk threads wet-on-wet so that colors blend and bleed. She abstracts her source material so that it becomes less about the documentation of a specific place and more about capturing feeling, movement, and energy, while also suggesting the blur of memory and passing time. Jónsson’s innovative practice speaks to the realities facing our changing planet, as the climate warms and Icelandic glaciers begin to melt, forever altering the landscape that motivates her work.

On view at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art from February 17 – June 2, 2024, Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson: Infinite Space, Sublime Horizons is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. in nearly a decade, and her first monographic show in the Southeast.