Becky Forsythe: Space / Drawing and conceptual Horizons

A.S.Í. Art Gallery & Museum 2016

The exhibition Space / drawing, which brings together numerous works on paper and in sculpture by Þóra Sigurðardóttir, offers a record of the information that we use to read or map space. Reconsidering the spaces that surround us and our investments in these places as lines, impressions, framed memory or conceptual horizons becomes a way of creating an alternative viewpoint, such as a drawing or diagram. when the works in this exhibition are taken into closer consideration, Þóra’s art practice is revealed as an extension of her life experiences: things she has stumbled on and become fascinated with, observations that transform, and an attention paid towards growth, repetition, exchange and tangibility as it appears to her in the surroundings.

She takes on the role of the artist as a mobile perceiver by offering different angles of the fields we occupy as consideration for structures found in everyday life and society structures and perceptions which are in the end fluid, moving and able to shift.

Most of the work presented here is recent, aside from a few elements, including an older recording that arrives from time spent in Denmark and is revisited in Arinstofa. The video shows a tree, covered completely by white webbing and is not far off or unlike Þóra’s approach to drawing. The natural lines drawn through the tree by the web are organic and visceral, with numerous layers to work through and visual language to decipher. This work, like the entire exhibition, is a look into the qualities of material in transformation, the process of outlining negative and positive spaces, and environmental sequences that feed Þóra’s ongoing explorations in navigating and recording. One viewpoint of a tree in a natural urban habitat becomes endless material for investment when it is transformed into a sketch of something else. Through the attention paid to the found subject, the video reminisces over a certain experience in a place during a particular moment, which becomes a thread running through the exhibition.

The perspective given in Gryfja also considers this point in a series of movements through built environments.
In Ásmundarsalur you will find large works on paper, with titles referring to their medium, hung alongside a collection of digitally-printed impressions collected from cut trees. Both of these series examine line as a build-up of different layers, which push how the surface is read, or multiple surfaces in this case, as space is added and subtracted in positives and negatives. Space is seen as a series of layers – from the ground up – a sequence of environments that absorb multiple surfaces and reference not only time, but distance, measurement and shifts within those structures. Drawn and constructed grids appear throughout and help to breakdown the levels in a mathematical way, reflecting an obvious human-made system of recording. Organic lines then trace different and contrasting pathways that cut the systematic surfaces and their structure most distinctly in the large drawings and the sculptures. In this dichotomy the hand of the artist, or the human, draws pathways across our measured and perhaps material world. As mirrored also within the tree-ring records, nature and human experience remain a sacred part of the investigations Þóra undertakes. These act as a reminder of the innate worlds that exist beyond those readily visible to us. In the case of the trees, spent or exhausted natural remains and processed leftovers are investigated in such a way that they see new light and are expanded in a context where they are free from their usual boundaries. The surfaces contribute to adapting physical (and intangible) structures as a new way of seeing particular environments, like those things we find in the artificial world.

Þóra’s works reveal another side to the patterned one that surrounds us, sometimes from domestic interiors, as navigations through those interiors, recordings, or built settings. In particular, this reference point, the view offered to us through the artist, can function as a meeting place for the imagination and its physical counterparts. Reading surfaces becomes more of a way of understanding our own position in the spaces we occupy and the relationship between the two. The key to entering into Þóra’s work is to keep one foot on each side of the division, or better yet, allow for both sides to permeate the other.
As you wander through the exhibition, amongst conceptual horizon lines, I encourage you to consider the space your body occupies, what surrounds you and the paths you create as you move and construct trails. Allow the works to be reference points or reminders that calibrate the awareness of your movements and gestures, both as negatives and positives. iI is my hope that a reflection of other environments will lead you to recollect or connect to the way Þóra’s work builds new representations. Our environments can be examined as planes layered one on top of the other and map-like as they consider different, but specific moments. Whether these moments can be translated into other forms of space-making is left up to the viewer. And, the viewer is encouraged to investigate this matter further. By taking a longer look into these things, we might recognize an attachment to our own experience as it contributes to the way we read the world around us.   Becky Forsythe 2016

Becky Forsythe (b. 1984) received her BFA from York University with a concentration in Visual Arts (2007), her MA from the University of Manitoba with a research specialization in Cultural History and Contemporary Art (2011) and a Graduate Certificate in Museum and Gallery Studies from Georgian College (2014). Becky is a writer, curator and Collec- tion Manager at the Living Art Museum (Nýló) in Reykjavík, where she currently lives and works.