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Thordis Adalsteinsdottir


February 11 | April 9, 2010

This exhibition by the icelandic-born, New york-based artist Thordis Adalsteinsdottir. the first in Italy, will feature eight new drawings, two paintings and a video of the artist. Thordis Adalsteinsdottir’s works offer to viewers a glimpse into her idiosyncratic inner landscapes of otherworlds. In these dreamlike scenes, cohabited by animals and people, strange interactions occur that question the traditional logic and expectations of viewing. The bold abundance of vivid color in her new paintings is not to be read as joyous celebration of life à la Matisse. The color as used in these images is far more ambivalent in its signification: it offers respite from cryptic narratives and a call for viewers’ delectation of beautiful patterns, which are Adalsteinsdottir’s signature pictorial element. The artist’s representations negate the realist space of fixed-point perspective by collapsing boundaries of outside and inside. Her flat surfaces challenge the authority of the frame - both formally and symbolically. However, the poignant inventiveness of the artist’s approach lies in the treatment of her protagonists. Her representations of the body imply the instability of the self. The body is often depicted in acts of embodiment, such as leakages when bodily fluids stream freely from it. Her themes in an oblique way imply cycles of life, death, and rebirth through an iconography of human and fairy-tale animal imagery. The artist does not use iconic animals and fairy tales because she does not assume the whole traditional narrative of gender as a premise. Often in her depictions animals are human personified only to stress the ambivalence toward gender stereotypes. Thordis never uses a ready-made popular image; her depictions are always stylized from her own imagination – memory and dreams alike. While melancholy prevails, strange signals of large surfaces of vivid colors and beautiful patterns indicate a redemptive dimension – indeed, happiness can occur, even if not yet. Adalsteinsdottir’s scenes are like frozen moments from dreams and nightmares equally fantastical, absurd, and deadpan. Sometimes the animals wear fishnet stockings; sometimes they are carrying razors; sometimes they are just there to comfort the humans. Without them, human sadness would be unbearable to behold.

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