During my residency in the north of Iceland this May, I was inspired to make a series of plein air landscape paintings after seeing the exhibition Eternal Recurrence at the Icelandic Art Center. The show was centered around an Icelandic landscape painter from the 1800s, Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval. Included in the exhibition were paintings from Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance of extreme landscape painting in the Icelandic lava fields.
I created the series paintings with the impulse to continue the conversation that these two artists started, both with the land in Iceland and the history of painting, but with the intent to reframe it from a feminist lens.
During my painting sessions, the weather was cold (between 0-6 °C / 32-43 °F), the wind was strong, and the birds flying overhead were loud. But rather than attempting to conquer the land through an act of brute force like Kjartansson in the iconic image of him, I approached these painting sessions as a way to connect with the land and to pay homage to it – which I see as an essential aspect of challenging traditional patriarchal and colonial narratives.
In addition to the paintings, I collaborated with Danish filmmaker, Anna Katrine Thuesen, who was also at the residency, to document the painting sessions. Website: sarahthibault.com Instagram: @sarah_thibault Medium: @sarahthibault