The Reykjavík Art Museum is currently hosting at Kjarvalsstaðir the painting exhibition “My dreamland in the North – Karen Agnete Þórarinsson“. Danish painter Karen Agnete was born in Copenhagen in 1903 from a well-off family. She grew up in a creative and culturally stimulating environment and attended the Danish Art Academy in Copenhagen. In 1929 she married Icelandic artist and former classmate Sveinn Þórarinsson, with whom she shared her passion for painting and with whom she held several art exhibitions in her lifetime. The couple moved to Iceland, where the artist spent most of her life until her death, in 1992. As it appears from her works, Karen Agnete was bewitched by the country and its beauty.
Karen Agnete was described by friends and acquaintances as an outstanding woman. She was the first in Iceland to hold a solo exhibition of her art. My dreamland in the North explores Karen Agnete’s artistic achievements through a selection of works, many coming from private collections. From the paintings on display, the viewer gets to know the vision of an artist extremely attentive to the spirit of her time, although not alien to classical training and education. In works representing religious topics especially, it’s possible to ascertain an inclination to evoke stylistic features reminiscent of Medieval and Renaissance sacred art. Several still lifes, mostly vases with flowers, utensils and fruit, show an eye keen on the charm that lies in ordinary details. Through her landscapes, in which she represents dogs caught in their night time wanderings, Icelandic horses in the greenery of wide pastures and only occasionally human figures, we discover Karen Agnete’s fascination for the natural world, with a predilection for the Icelandic scenery. The most striking works are however those depicting people in their daily activities: Icelandic women chatting and drinking coffee or bent over a sewing machine, larger groups playing cards or gathering for a celebration, a young man reading a book. “These people are not real,” warns Karen Agnete from the exhibition’s walls, although it’s hard not to recognize traces of utter authenticity in these faces and postures, thanks to such a vivid and familiar approach.
My dreamland in the North, curated by Hrafnhildur Schram, includes also a small selection of belongings—original photos and tools, mainly—documenting both the artist’s public and private life.
The exhibition, open every day between 10-17, will be running through March 4, 2012.