The Icelandic Visual Arts Council presents the Icelandic Art Prize 2019, providing support to outstanding visual artists as well as encouraging new artistic creation. The winner was announced on February 21 by the minister of education and culture, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir.

Eygló Harðardóttir (b. 1956) was named the Artist of the Year for her aptly named exhibition Another Space in The Living Art Museum.

Artist Eygló Harðardóttir. Photo: Helga Óskarsdóttir.

With work that simultaneously was dainty and coarse, made from delicate materials, the artist opened up doorways for the viewer to enter and increase their perception and sensitivity instead of the usual rationalism. Eygló seems concerned with the viewers sensing that there is no one correct answer, that all dimensions are equally important and that their experience can be personal and limitless. The works were wide open for interpretation. The determined and sophisticated usage of found and bought materials carried an incentive for intuition, to not only read the material of the works but also their hidden dimensions, the subconscious, and the interaction with light and the concrete space of the material world. The work was mainly made from paper, a material which Eygló is obviously fond of, and leads her to the natural structure of her art. The book art “Another Space”, was the exhibition’s source, expanding the possibilities of form and media, in a wide sense.

From the exhibition Another Space in The Living Art Museum. Photo: Vigfús Birgisson.

For almost three decades, Eygló’s art has been interwoven with her work as an art teacher on one hand, and a ranger in the Icelandic highlands on the other. Her understanding and respect for the material and its nature echoes an exploration of the most delicate elements in Iceland’s flora and fauna, and this has formed a unique sensitivity in Eygló’s art teaching, where she guides young people during their formation years.

Installation view of Another Space in The Living Art Museum. Photo: Helga Óskarsdóttir.

It is the selection committee’s opinion that Eygló’s exhibition in The Living Art Museum showed all her main characteristics; a passion for art, an unbridled creation, a profound curiosity of the functionality of the inscrutable, and dissemination and teaching which is apparent in the trust she showed the viewers by allowing them to participate in the creation.

Nominations – Artist of the year 2019:

Eygló Harðardóttir for Another Space in The Living Art Museum.
Guðmundur Thoroddsen for Snip Snap Snubbur in Hafnarborg.
Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir for Evolvement in Kling & Bang.
Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir for The Little MareSausage at Cycle Music and Art: Inclusive Nation.


Motivational Award

Leifur Ýmir Eyjólfsson (b. 1987) was the winner of the 2019 Icelandic Art Prize’s Motivational Award for his exhibition Manuscript in D-Hall in Reykjavik Art Museum.

From the exhibition Manuscript. Photo: Owen Fiene.

Leifur Ýmir Eyjólfsson (b. 1987) has with great care adopted techniques and methods in relation to print, engravings, stamps and ceramics. He is nominated for his exhibition Manuscript in D-Hall, where he returns to an idea which was born during his study years. He already had a great interest in book art and the idea was to create pages from fired clay, each of which would be an independent work of art.

It is not an easy thing, firing such a thin clay tablet that it can pass for a page in a book, and it is impressive to listen to the artist’s descriptions of the long and delicate experimental process, where he gradually learned, by his mistakes, what would work and what wouldn’t.

From the exhibition Manuscript. Photo: Owen Fiene.

When Leifur had made hundreds of the clay tablets, he painted on them random words and phrases which he had spent a long time noting down, from his own speech and other people’s. He rejected all lyricism but collected clichés and idle talk, fillers which we “chew” on, to use the artist’s own words, while we focus our thought on what we really want to say. Together, the clay tablets form a manuscript, a book which you walk into. The clay reminds us of the impermanence of language, which we shape and break at will, just like the artist’s material.

The selection committee is of the opinion that Leifur Ýmir memorably integrates the content and material in this exhibition which follows the viewer outside the museum and into daily life, where it keeps on brewing in the mind.

Nominations – Motivational Award 2019:

Auður Ómarsdóttir for In off the Post in Kling & Bang.
Fritz Hendrik IV for Routine Dream in Kling & Bang.
Leifur Ýmir Eyjólfsson for Manuscript in D-Hall in Reykjavík Art Museum.


The Jury of the Icelandic Art Prize 2019:

Hanna Styrmisdóttir
Jóhann Ludwig Torfason
Margrét Kristín Sigurðardóttir
Sigurður Guðjónsson