Chart Art Fair took place last week for the third time. A new art fair in Copenhagen, it is the first Danish art fair to focus exclusively on contemporary art. The fair featured 28 galleries from the Nordic countries, of which two were Icelandic. I had a chat with Aldís Snorradóttir, the director of Hverfisgallerí, one of the Icelandic galleries at the fair, and asked how it all went down.

How come you decided to be a part of Chart Art Fair?

We’ve participated two times at Market Art Fair in Stockholm, and where there earlier this year, but this was the first time at Chart Art Fair. The galleries participating at Chart are carefully chosen and invited by the organisers, so we were happy to take part in it.

And how did it go?

I’m very pleased, people seemed to be very interested in what we had to offer. My feeling is that people were seeing these artists’ works for the first time, but were genuinely interested in it. There were a lot of people which gave us the opportunity to network quite a bit and hopefully establish some future connections and maybe even collaborations.

 What did you have on offer?

Each gallery can choose what they bring and which artists they represent and we decided to go with three Icelandic artists, Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, a.k.a. Shoplifter, Kristinn E. Hrafnsson and Thor Sigurthorsson.

Why these artists?

I don’t want to pick a favourite, we represent many talented artists at our gallery, but somehow I just felt like it was the right time to bring these artists’ work to a bigger audience. Hrafnsson is well known in Iceland, he even has several public works there, but I think he needs more exposure abroad. Arnardóttir has made a bit of a name for herself, so people could see something they might recognise, while Sigurthorsson is more up and coming. When you go to an art fair abroad, you have to choose artists whose works compliment each other and kind of create a sense of unity since your booth is like a mini-exhibition, in a way.

Do you feel like people responded to that?

Yes, I got the feeling that people started to sense something essentially Icelandic, like the works, despite being very different, were a representation of the Icelandic art scene. Arnardóttir’s work definitely had some pull and ended up being the most photographed in our booth. She was also the most well known artist we had and even those who did not recognise her immediately, had an idea of her work when told that she worked with Björk on her artwork for Medúlla, doing the jewellery made from hair.

What does it mean for the Icelandic art scene to be a part of this kind of fair?

It’s a great promotion for Icelandic art and the country in general. Being a part of a big fair gives us an opportunity to promote our art and show what’s going on in Iceland. People definitely sensed something uniquely Icelandic in the works we had on display which is great, because there haven’t been many Icelandic galleries participating at international art fairs. It’s mainly been i8 Gallery, which was also at Chart Art Fair, who have been participating in fairs, which is great, but they of course have their own style and works that they choose to bring. We’re very happy to contribute and bring a wider array of Icelandic art.

You mentioned that you met a lot of people and networked, do you think that has any effect on the Icelandic art scene on a more general level?

Yes, even though the networking that I do might be on a personal level, it is beneficial for the Icelandic art scene and the country itself. Any connections and collaborations that I may work out will lead to more people coming to Iceland, extended media coverage and help to open up the art market. It all works together to create a stronger creative field which can make a valuable contribution to the economy. Just like some Icelandic bands that have made names for themselves abroad, they help to bring attention and people to Iceland. It’s like a ripple effect.

 

Hverfisgallerí will be at the Art On Paper art fair in Brussels, 11-13th of September. For more information head to www.hverfisgalleri.is