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Forty Years of The Corridor

3 February4 June

The Corridor is an artist-run exhibition space founded by artist Helgi Þorgils Friðjónsson in 1979, and it is probably Iceland’s longest-running privately-operated gallery. The Corridor has always been housed in Helgi Þorgils‘  home; the gallery‘s first exhibition, of For the Time Being by Hreinn Friðfinnsson early in 1980, was held at Laufásvegur 79. The Corridor moved on to Mávahlíð 24, then Freyjugata 32 and Rekagrandi 8. It is now located at Brautarholt 8; in 2017–18 the Corridor had a branch at Kárastígur 9 in Hofsós, north Iceland, when Helgi spent a year there with his family.

Helgi‘s principal objective in founding an exhibition space in his home was to present the work of contemporary artists from other countries in Iceland; at that time there was little opportunity to see international contemporary art in Iceland. Helgi had previously been involved in the foundation and operation of a number of exhibition spaces, such as Gallery Output, founded in 1975 with Þór Vigfússon, Gallery Suðurgata 7Gallery Lóa in Haarlem, Netherlands, and Gallery Vísir in the Vísir newspaper, all founded in 1976, and the Living Art Museum, 1978.

It is hardly possible to enumerate all the contemporary artists who have shown their work at the Corridor in the 42 years it has been in operation. The vast majority are non-Icelandic artists, some internationally renowned. The artists who have displayed their work at the Corridor make art in a range of media, and Helgi has sought to exhibit the work of artists representative of other artistic trends than those which have predominated in Iceland, such as hyperrealism, magical realism, neo-surrealism, the geometric abstract, and conceptual art. Among them are Karin Kneffel, Milan Kunc, Helmut Federle, Stephen McKenna, James Rielly, Jan Knap, Sigrid Sandstrom, Robert Devriendt, Jenny Watson, Thomas Huber, Lisa Milroy, John Zürier, Urs Luthi and, last but not least, the Swiss artist Martin Disler, who was the first foreign artist to show his work in the Corridor, in 1980. Many of these artists have established bonds with Iceland and the Icelanders, and they have enriched Icelandic art in various ways, such as through teaching at the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (precursor of the Iceland University of the Arts), through participation in exhibitions at Iceland’s leading galleries, and by promoting Icelandic artists abroad. Many of the artists have spent time in Iceland, and some of their art evinces influence from their stay – so the impact may be deemed reciprocal.