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Forty Years of The Corridor / Gangurinn Gallery Reykjavik

03.02.2023 — 04.06.2023

Zum 40jährigen Jubiläum der Galerie des isländischen Künstlers Helgi Thorgils Fridjónsson richtet die National Gallery of Iceland eine Ausstellung aus, die Werke aller in der Gangurinn Gallery gezeigten Künstlerinnen und Künstler präsentiert. Die im Rahmen der Ausstellungstätigkeit in der Galerie gesammelten Kunstwerke werden nach der Ausstellung in den Besitz der National Gallery übergehen, sodass auch ein Werk von Holger Bunk im Museum in Reykjavik verbleibt.


The Corridor / Gangurinn Gallery is an artist-run exhibition space founded by artist Helgi Þorgils Friðjónsson in 1979, and it is probably Iceland’s longest-running privately-operated gallery. Gangurinn has always been housed in Helgi Þorgils‘  home; the gallery‘s first exhibition, of For the Time Being by Hreinn Friðfinnsson early in 1980, was held at Laufásvegur 79. Gangurinn moved on to Mávahlíð 24, then Freyjugata 32 and Rekagrandi 8. It is now located at Brautarholt 8; in 2017–18 Gangurinn had a branch at Kárastígur 9 in Hofsós, north Iceland, when Helgi spent a year there with his family.

Helgi‘s principal objective in founding an exhibition space in his home was to present the work of contemporary artists from other countries in Iceland; at that time there was little opportunity to see international contemporary art in Iceland. Helgi had previously been involved in the foundation and operation of a number of exhibition spaces, such as Gallery Output, founded in 1975 with Þór Vigfússon, Gallery Suðurgata 7, Gallery Lóa in Haarlem, Netherlands, and Gallery Vísir in the Vísir newspaper, all founded in 1976, and the Living Art Museum, 1978.

It is hardly possible to enumerate all the contemporary artists who have shown their work at Gangurinn in the 42 years it has been in operation. The vast majority are non-Icelandic artists, some internationally renowned. The artists who have displayed their work at Gangurinnmake art in a range of media, and Helgi has sought to exhibit the work of artists representative of other artistic trends than those which have predominated in Iceland, such as hyperrealism, magical realism, neo-surrealism, the geometric abstract, and conceptual art. Among them are Karin Kneffel, Milan Kunc, Helmut Federle, Stephen McKenna, James Rielly, Jan Knap, Sigrid Sandstrom, Robert Devriendt, Jenny Watson, Thomas Huber, Lisa Milroy, John Zürier, Urs Luthi and, last but not least, the Swiss artist Martin Disler, who was the first foreign artist to show his work in Gangurinn, in 1980. Many of these artists have established bonds with Iceland and the Icelanders, and they have enriched Icelandic art in various ways, such as through teaching at the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (precursor of the Iceland University of the Arts), through participation in exhibitions at Iceland’s leading galleries, and by promoting Icelandic artists abroad. Many of the artists have spent time in Iceland, and some of their art evinces influence from their stay – so the impact may be deemed reciprocal.

In 2020 the 40th anniversary of the foundation of Gallery Gangurinnwas marked with an exhibition of the works of the foreign artists whose art had been exhibited at Gangurinn over the years. Helgi Þorgils and his wife Rakel Halldórsdóttir invited artists to take part in the anniversary show by sending in works. All the artists they were able to contact responded favourably, and sent works for the show, which they also presented to Helgi and Rakel as gifts. In 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic was raging around the world, and that inevitably affected the exhibition. Many works of art were delayed in transit, and so the decision was made to spread the exhibition throughout the year 2020, with three openings.

After the anniversary year Helgi and Rakel presented the works from the show to the National Gallery of Iceland: a total of 90 pieces by 68 artists from 20 countries, which are now on display at the National Gallery. This generous gift is a valuable addition to the gallery’s collection, and important documentation of the contribution of Gangurinn to the art scene in Iceland over the past four decades.



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