Kristín Morthens: Andrými á hafsbotni / Air under water

3 June - 2 July 2023
"There is a sense of eternity, of time without end, in these spiritually mystic landscapes. "

Air Under Water is an excursion exploring territories unknown, yet faintly recognizable landscapes etched into the borders of our psyche. The artist, herself, becomes a conduit for ideas that seem familiar, yet totally novel to us, even sometimes to the artist herself. The works communicate something deeply personal whilst searching for something cosmological, a shared oceanic feeling. There is a sense of eternity, of time without end, in these spiritually mystic landscapes. Where there are different forces at play, not binary forces, but multitudes of queer phenomena that co-exist within these dimensions the frames capture. Systems of Contact and Time depicts these elements in action, in tension with one another still subdued by the same atmosphere and ebb-and-flow of the composition as a whole. If you take the time to, it is possible to sense, hear and feel bodies softly moving around one another. As the title suggests, the exhibition takes us on a subaquatic trip. Come to think of it, the surface of the ocean is as familiar to us as the bottom of the sea is mysterious and uncharted. But never alien.  

In Kristín’s works there is a strong sense of desire, a desire that draws its own affective landscapes. Not an erotic desire per se, much rather one that has to do with sexuality on a molecular, elemental, geological, meteorological and a cross-species scale. Going beyond individual psychologies and circumstances. Kiss, the Sun Sank Under Water exemplifies this notion. I, myself, sank when I first saw this work. It has a phantom embrace that is cautiously evoked from within. Carrying me to think of Karen Barad and Rosi Braidotti, two leading figures in new materialism and posthumanist studies, Kristín manages to capture the queer intimacy of greeting the stranger within, embracing an uncanny sense of the otherness of the self. Nevertheless, this embrace arouses an infinity of others — other beings, other spaces, other times — that she describes so gracefully in both painting and sculpture. 

The space within the compositions is charged with an energy that is ephemeral, but feels constant at the same time. It has this tremendous sense of life beginning. When you reach There is Air Under Water take a deep breath and hold it in until you need to release it. When you look back up again, do you notice the layers? The different materials and processes? The texture of the oil, the lightness of the dry pastel and the fluidity of the spray paint. All of these elements communicating with each other, together create an expansive yet subtle vibrancy that resonates within you. Inciting you to heal when need be and take charge when the time is right. Here the soft meets the hard, resulting in a state transcending their difference.


Text by Þórhildur Tinna Sigurðardóttir

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