KETELEER Gallery is very pleased to announce Valgerður Sigurðardóttir’s first solo exhibition Recurring Themes. Valgerður, ‘Vala’ in short, graduated in Sculpture at KASK, Ghent in 2018, but prior to that, her work was already part of the group exhibition The Girls Next Door, curated by Nadia Bijl. She’s the co-founder of ABC Klubhuis: an Icelandic artist-run initiative that organises exhibitions and events with young artists.
As stated in the title, the works in this exhibition are a continuation on themes she’s been working on for some time and are in themselves, in life characterised by their recurring nature.
Contrary to the materials she uses, Vala’s works are very light-hearted. In a child-like, seemingly naive way she portrays the extremely quotidian and ordinary to the point of the absurd. Little scenes of people at the dinner table, a woman on the toilet reading a newspaper, someone entering the room… and nothing more. They almost feel like pages straight out of children’s book.
Drawing is a crucial factor in Vala’s creative process. The direct, spontaneous gesture, done in materials she can’t erase (charcoal) are the ideal means to conjure up stories that were haunting her mind in the most intuitive way. Very personal memories, dreams and fantasies are the fuel for telling quite a universal story that leaves as much room as possible for the viewer’s own associations.
Memories often cling onto the smallest things, rather than to big narratives. As human beings we are necessarily bound to our daily routines: repetitive actions through which we develop a set of habits that create something permanent: quasi-stable anchors which allow us to face the transient and make us necessarily bound to a world of tangible things. Perhaps therefore in dreams it’s often the place, space or house which turns out to be the signifier of what goes on inside.
We cannot think without context, nor think up anything that doesn’t have a context. The works of Vala zoom in on exactly this: the everyday scenery as a condition that makes our imagination, memories or dreams possible. A crucial world, more than a mere functional, random or banal necessity, but one that generates meaning.
Vala makes heavy, concrete (and tiled) pieces that beautifully emphasise the gravity of the everyday. She only works with materials which are used to build houses and which she made herself from scratch as a reference to the architectural, concrete design of our lives, a reference to our being-in-the-world.
The standing sculptures also interfere with the space, with the viewer’s movements. They become new walls we must walk around, like a room divider we have to peak behind to know the whole story which inevitably makes us part of the scene. You can’t avoid feeling like a peeping-tom and playing along with a smile.
Valgerður Sigurðardóttir received her master’s degree in Sculpture at KASK, Ghent, Belgium and studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, Antwerp, Belgium prior to that as an Erasmus exchange student from the Icelandic Academy of Arts where she finished her bachelor’s degree. In 2017 she co-founded ABC Klubhuis. Since 2013 she took part in numerous group exhibitions in Reykjavik, Oslo, Ghent, Antwerp, Romania, …