Kristján Steingrímur: From Near and Afar
21 January–25 February
The Impact of the Anthropocene on the Colours of the Earth
Stone grey, ochre yellow, rust red – the geological materials in Kristján Steingrímur’s paintings remind us that artists have experimented with clay and minerals since the dawn of time. The earliest cave painters used ochre, umber, sienna, manganese and kaolin. They crushed stones and mixed soil with grease and other organic binding agents to attach the colours to the surface. Kristján mixes his colours using similar methods. When they appear, they assume a symbolic role and an aesthetic meaning, as Kristján’s paintings refer to specific places and names that have a particular glow, even magic, in the minds of viewers: Námaskarð, Seyðishólar, Sólheimajökull, Rauðisandur, Bethlehem, Carmel, Omaha Beach, Sienna and Bordeaux.
But although the colours he creates from these minerals are based on a long process that begins with sampling, often in exotic locations, his research does not revolve around travel, geology or chemistry, although they could be linked to topography or mapping, even a kind of search for the DNA of the regions he visits. Is it possible that the soil he collects in these different places has biological markers? The yellow sands of Omaha Beach still show the signs of the devastating deciding battle that took place there in World War II, but what secrets does the Bethlehem soil hold?
Text: Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir