Júlíana Sveinsdóttir and Ruth Smith: Two Strong Women
The work of two women artists are displayed – Icelander Júlíana Sveinsdóttir (1889–1966 ) and the Faroese Ruth Smith (1913–1958) – to mark the centenary of women in Iceland and the Faroes gaining the right to vote.
Both artists grew up on barren, windy islands in the north Atlantic, in small and isolated communities where the visual arts were in their infancy in the early 20th century: Júlíana on Heimaey Island in the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland, Ruth on Suðurey in the Faroes. Both entered the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and they were among the first women in their respective countries to pursue a career in art. Both remained in Denmark for several years, as the Nazi occupation of the country during World War II meant that they could not leave until the hostilities were over. But both painted predominantly the landscapes of their home countries. Each depicts her own island – Suðurey and the Westman Islands – with a delicate colour sensibility, capturing the overwhelming power of the ocean and the confrontation between land and sea. The exhibition at Kjarvalsstaðir comprises about ninety works – oil paintings and drawings, which include landscapes, still lifes and portraits. Both artists made many self-portraits in which each scrutinises herself with a merciless, critical gaze, facing up to everything from depression, to ageing and physical deterioration.
This is a peripatetic exhibition which will be shown next at Listasavn Føroya, the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands in Torshavn, opening on 11.9.2015. After that it will open at Nordatlantens Brygge in Copenhagen on 14.11.2015.
Curator is art historian Hrafnhildur Schram.
The exhibition has received a grant from the Nordic Culture Fund.