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The Crusader of the Painting: Einar Hákonarson

Hákonarson

“Feel Art Again” returns with our first ever Icelandic artist. Einar Hákonarson, who celebrated his 64th birthday yesterday, is “one of Iceland’s best known artists.” Considered to be the artist who “brought the figure back into Icelandic painting,” Hákonarson has created art that spans from pop to figurative to expressionistic.

1. Einar Hákonarson began attending The National Art School of Iceland, where he studied for 4 years, at the young age of 15. After a stint at Sweden’s Valand Art University, Hákonarson returned to The National Art School, this time as a 21-year-old instructor. Younger than many of his students, Hákonarson grew a beard to look more the part of an instructor. He’s worn the beard ever since.

2. Hákonarson is a leader in the Icelandic arts world. He was the driving force behind the formation of the Icelandic Printmakers Association in 1969 and served as its first president. The following year, he co-founded an art school, Myndsyn, a colleague. When Hákonarson became the director of The National Art School in 1978, he founded the printmaking department and the sculpture department and reconstructed the ceramics department.

3. In the 1990s, Icelandic painters became frustrated with the state of the Icelandic art world, which they felt neglected painting and focused only on conceptual art. Hákonarson became “Iceland’s most energetic crusader of the painting and its right of existence.” Iceland’s first privately owned cultural center, The Art Center, was built by Hákonarson in 1997 to serve as an exhibition space for painters and artists. The center flourished, but went under after only 2 years due to financial strain and politics. Hákonarson lost everything when the Center went under, even his house. He didn’t let the failure get him down, though – in 2002, he founded a non-profit exhibition place, The Painters House.

4. “In the Grass Root,” a “cultural night” exhibition in Reykjavik in 2005, consisted of tents in the city center’s parks displaying 90 paintings. The exhibition attracted an unprecedented 3,000 people – one percent of the country’s entire population – in just one day. No other art exhibition in Iceland has been as successful.

5. Hákonarson is one of Iceland’s principal portraitists, painting some of the most influential people, from politicians to national poets. Other artistic ventures include printmaking, sculpting, and working in stained glass and mosaic.

A larger version of “Around the Golden Calf,” a 2005 triptych, is available here.

Fans should check out Einar Hákonarson’s official site, which includes an extensive gallery.

“Feel Art Again” appears three times a week. Looking for a particular artist? Visit our archive for a complete listing of all 250+ artists that have been featured. You can e-mail us at feelartagain@gmail.com with details of current exhibitions, for sources or further reading, or to suggest artists. Or you can head to our Facebook page, where you can do everything in one place.


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