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The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2012

All Issues
FEB 2012 Issue


Gudmundur Thoroddsen, "Rockabilly Sonny," 2012. Ink on paper. 24" x 18". Courtesy Asya Geisberg Gallery.

On View
Asya Geisberg Gallery
January 12 – February 18, 2012
New York

Gudmundur Thoroddsen’s first solo show in New York playfully interrogates the self and the nation’s patriarchs through a range of disciplines. A sequence of ink drawings from 2011 fills the gallery walls, including mostly portraits of bearded figures rendered with a heavy brushstroke. Subjects reference the mythic (“Odin or Thor”), the familial (“Dr. Gudmundur Thoroddsen’s Bronze Bust II”), the occult (“Quatro Quarto (Four Eyes)”), and the conspiratorial (“Brotherhood of Man”). In these drawings, Thoroddsen eschews the finer details of the traditional portrait in favor of an emergent image that combines the extreme subjectivity of the Rorschach test with the mysteries of the Shroud of Turin. Indeed, Thoroddsen’s interest in a forged past greets visitors at the gallery’s front entrance, where a copper table holds tiny sculptures of household items made from emulsified excrement—the artist’s scatological humor made flesh. This theme is recurrent in other drawings such as “Abstraction with hot dog and salt and pepper” (2011) and “I’ll Shit on your Feet if you Piss on my Back (Rockabilly Version)” (2011). Here, Thoroddsen leavens what could have been a heavy-handed critique of masculinity. The heart of the show features a series of wooden busts depicting hirsute patriarchs with third and fourth eyes, channeling the haunted giants of Easter Island and J.R.R. Tolkien’s majestic Argonath. Thoroddsen’s 13-minute process video, “Yes You’re Going to Burn,” captures the torching of Primogenitor, the alpha subject in the series. Viewing this video, I instinctively put my hands to the screen—perhaps in unconscious tribute to the understated virtuosity of a show like Thoroddsen’s, to which one can’t help but warm in the dead of our city winter.


Paolo Javier

A featured artist in Queens International 18, Paolo Javier is the author of the chapbook and cassette EP Maybe the Sweet Honey Pours (Nion Editions/Temporary Tapes 2019), and O.B.B., a long comics poem forthcoming from Nightboat Books.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2012

All Issues