Helgi’s Great Corridor

“Rakel, my wife, and I loosely summed up the value of the gift to the Icelandic Museum of Art, around one hundred million”. Says Helgi Þorgils Friðjónsson, an artist who gave the nation over two hundred works of art by foreign artists who have exhibited their works at Gallerí Gangur. “I  think there are about 420 exhibitions that I have held at Gallerí Gangur, a gallery that I founded 43 years ago.” The gallery is the oldest private gallery in the country that has operated continuously since its foundation. But Gangur has always been run in Helgi’s home, but the first exhibition was Hreinn Friðfinnsson’s exhibition For the Time Being, early in 1980. “The vast majority of exhibitors are foreign artists, and some are very well known internationally. The word on the street about the gallery at the beginning, especially in Switzerland, was that everyone who showed in the gallery would become world famous, because it’s true,” said Helgi and laughed. Helgi says that he tried to show the works of artists who work with different trends than those that are common here at home. Surrealism, neo-surrealism, conceptual art, geometry and of course magical realism. Artists like the Swiss Martin Disler, who was the first foreign artists to be showcased in Gangurinn, 43 years ago. Then we can mention Sigrid Sandström, Jenny Watson, Karin Kneffel, Milan Kunc, Stephen McKenna, John Zürier and Urs Luthi.

Helgi Þorgils Friðjónsson is one of our greatest visual artists, born 70 years ago in Búðardalur in Dalasýsla. Studied art, first in Reykjavík and from there he went to study in Hague and then to Maastricht in the Netherlands from 1976 to 1979. Helgi Þorgils is one of the creators of the “new-painting” that shook the Icelandic art- and music world over half a century ago. There is currently an exhibition of the gift from the couple, Helgi Þorgils and Rakel, at the Art Gallery of Iceland, an exhibition for which Vigdís Rún Jónsdóttir is the curator, the exhibition runs until the fourth of June.

Helgi Þorgils Friðjónsson

The couple, the exhibitions donors

 The exhibition Gallarí Gangur for 40 years

From the exhibition Gallarí Gangur for 40 years

Helgi in the corridor (Gangurinn) in The Icelandic Museum of Art

Photographs & text: Páll Stefánsson

17/03/2023 : A7C, A7RIV : FE 1.4/24mm GM, FE 1.2/50mm GM