Studio Visit Sigga Björg Sigurðardóttir
Words by Markus Thor Andresson
A very nice person with a somewhat alarming imagination?
Sigga Björg Sigurðardóttir just returned from a trip to Canada, where she installed a mural of the painstaking kind that she has been developing over a number of years. Large figurative motives reflect the artist’s intense attentiveness to details in formal approach and craftsmanship, set side by side with geometric abstractions, smudges and drips applied directly on the wall. On top of it all she mounts her drawings on paper that often carry similar characteristics on a micro level. The new work was created within the context of the group exhibition “Emotional Blackmail”, on display at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, open until 8 July 2012.
Starting off by facing a huge white wall, she outlines a strategy for the mural in a small sketch, while paging through drawings that will ultimately also go on the wall. In the particular selection of drawings intended for the exhibition, the separation between one figure and the next is often unclear. Two characters are shown leaning against each other, or one resting on top of the other, and what appears to be a single creature will carry the hint of another. She extends these elements, paint stroke by paint stroke, onto the wall, where a scrawny creature appears, carrying the weight of another enormous one. The black and gloomy burden seems in its rear part to bare a slight resemblance to the sidekick, heading in another direction, however.
Sigurðardóttir’s visual language is full of fantasy, surreal humor and childhood nostalgia. Looking beyond such apparent qualities, it is interesting to consider the work on a more realistic level, as it reveals a penetrating analysis of human interaction and emotion. Her intriguing mural explores the push and pull of relationships, the desire to both manipulate and be at one with another, as well as the subtleties of feelings such as loneliness, jealousy, love, and fear. Sigurðardóttir’s untitled drawings from 2010 have been displayed twice before, in the Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, USA, and the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Canada. Originally they appeared juxtaposed with a mural that showed an ostrich-like figure torn in two across the walls of the galleries.
Sigurðardóttir states that she is not so interested in the notion of fantasy, imagination or the bizarre in relation to her work. For her, the extensive practice of drawing and painting every day, year in and year out, has taken on a method that she compares to keeping a diary. The characters in her work, their actions and appearance, reflect a personal journal, exposing an interest and awareness of emotion and communication. The work is full of humor and play, an attractive trait that may subsequently set off a train of thought among viewers, where they will recognize situations in their own every-day lives being explored from an unexpected angle.
Some of the figures that appear in Sigurðardóttir’s work have done so repeatedly, resulting in a closer examination of their independent particularities and characteristics. Some have taken on three-dimensional shape, others accumulated a narrative that is further elaborated upon in stop-motion videos. Sigurðardóttir remains the architect of the work as a whole, constructing the narrative, the animation, and the music. In a recent solo exhibition, “33”, in Kling & Bang Gallery, she presented a couple of new sculptures and videos, together with a series of portraits of individual characters, each with a personal name and visual trait. She aims at continuing this development, where the continuous flow of expression is brought to an occasional halt and investigated in depth, or brought to its conclusion. Coming up for Sigga Björg Sigurðardóttir is a publication introducing the gallery of characters that she has discovered in her research.