The paintings of New York/Icelandic artist Thordis Adalsteinsdottir project a playful yet deeply resonant personal aesthetic that seeks the common ground between abstraction and figuration. Beginning with an everyday scene – a view of a friend lounging on a bed, for example – Adalsteinsdottir distills from it an abstracted essence, simplifying the figure and its surroundings to a purely iconic representation. The picture is then executed in flat planes of saturated color to create an airtight, alternative world, which ultimately serves to push the abstract visual qualities of the medium itself to the fore, in an updated take on color field painting.
The iconic forms that fill these paintings are at once crude and calculated: they bring to mind the simplicity of graffiti or comic book art, yet the balance of the compositions, and above all the tension of implicit line created where the saturated fields of color meet gives the paintings a certain self-conscious stylishness – a blend of street-smart directness and aesthetic savoir-faire. There is an additional, unique flavor to Adalsteinsdottir’s explorations, however. Having lived in New York for the last three years, she openly admits the direct influence of her exposure to painting here in the evolution of her style, but the works also carry an idiosyncratic twist, a decidedly different sense of timing, evidence of the lingering trace of her Icelandic upbringing.
Bridging abstraction and figuration, Adalsteinsdottir creates a fusion of aesthetic means that emphasizes the pure painterly possibilities of her medium. Rather than confuse art and life, these works maintain a separate realm, delineating the tension and the beauty of line and color in overtly flattened, two-dimensional terms. Informed by the facts of her life, yet distanced from it, Adalsteinsdottir’s work invites the viewer to encounter the familiar world of the everyday as it has been transformed into a decidedly alternative, painterly reality.