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Helgi Thorsson

In conversation with
Ola Vasiljeva

As part of the exhibition: Bellissimo Thorsson
This took place before the opening on 26/02/2016

The artists invited to realize a project at 1646 are asked to engage in conversation with a correspondent via email or DM, be it someone previously unknown to them or whom they’re already familiar with.

This conversation spans the period before an exhibition is completed. 1646 invites the correspondent at the other end of this exchange to ask questions so they may be guided through the artist’s decision-making process and how their initial ideas develop toward completion. It provides insight into the artist’s body of work and is intended to paint a picture of the otherwise untraceable choices that constitute the artist’s practice.

Ola VAsiljeva [OV] – Helgi Thorsson [HT]

Dear Helgi,

I know your work a little bit – a few years ago I saw a wonderful

bar or maybe it was a lamp or a farmer’s leg- or maybe a combination of all three at Kees van Gelder.

And then I saw many many paintings and sculptures, balding heads

and voluptuous ladies, animal smokers, the undead cats, homeless

ghosts and all was always surrounded by so much magic and so much

fun.

At Art Rotterdam I met again a curious bar and all these vessels

and furniture pieces who are also always someone else too. So many

spirits – animal and alcoholic!

From the introduction to your Belissimo Thorsson show I read that

you visited a few mediums, who unraveled some hidden knowledge.

Looking at your work it feels like even your chair or a little tea-

pot knows more than any medium on planet Earth. How did you end

up at a hypnotist this time?

HT – OV

I was in a show with a spiritual artist in Iceland and

there I met a hypnotist, I was curious about it. I found

out that he was in the same building as my accountant,

next time I went with some papers I dropped by the

hypnotist, he was free and gave me a session, not for

free it was rather pricey, but normally he would only

interview people in first session to see if people

are stable or not. I assured him I was totally ok and

stable so he could just get on with it, and it worked,

in a sense: I got in a weird daydream stage and saw

all these bright colors much more intense than if you

just imagine things and colors, it was as watching a

projection in my head.

I did not really go to the mediums for the show, but I

went to them and they told me this stuff – that is the

truth. Why I went is just for curiosity, and when I was

asked to write a text, this came to me and so it came to

be for the exhibition which perhaps is true? I need to

go again.

OV – HT

I love this multi-eyed and multi-headed cat, he looks

multi-hypnotized by the calm dog next to him.

And I love the idea of a building which accommodates

an accountant and a hypnotist and who knows what else.

Some of your furniture pieces look like they come

from interiors of similar worlds. Where does the name

“Domti” come from?

HT – OV

Domti was a shop that sold cheap stuff in Smáratorg

shopping center in Iceland, my grandfather had huge

belief in this shop and was always giving members of the

family stuff from there, this was not appreciated.

The shop stopped, I like the name and my grandfather.

Another strange thing about the accountant, he was

great and helped me a lot getting back years of overpaid

tax, but this time I went to the hypnotist, he was not

in and I sent him emails and phoned him but never got

hold of him. One day I went again in that building and

his office was gone, I never heard again from him and I

have had bad luck with my tax.

OV – HT

Maybe you should move your studio to this building where

some mysterious characters appear and disappear. There

must be some portal that the magical accountant and

practical hypnotist keep on exchanging.

And what about the pan flute music?

HT – OV

Yes true, but the accountant is disappearing like that

all the time, I was told.

I must work a bit, then I will have coffee and send

something about the pan flute.

(Helgi disappeared too)

OV – HT

While you take a small break – I was thinking that your

stories and your work follow a dream logic, full of

gaps and past lives and other kind of lives. Maybe it’s

Iceland, so rich in mythic imagination or maybe its just

you lucky to be tapping all the time into some web of

wild intelligence.

I myself feed heavily on my dreams, for example. Which

often influences my work too. So it’s also like going to

a medium – only instead of going, I am going to sleep.

I rely on this and appreciate the door, which opens in

sleep very much. And sometimes the information that

comes through dreams gets mixed with the reality information and it makes the knowledge so pleasantly elusive

and blurry. I like blurry things and especially in art I

love everything blurry and open. This brings me back to

your ceramics inspired by flute music..

HT – OV

Yes I find dreams help and what comes to me in dreams or

in between wake and sleep is what I take most seriously.

One of the most famous medium of our time Edgar Cayce

said we should all listen to our dreams and write them

down and learn to use them in our daily life, and that

we all have psychic powers?

Pan flute music was kind of joke but I got into it and

I have been playing pan flute music for my ceramics and

I believe that with the right technique of the future I

can play it back through the vases, they are very much

alive.

So that’s how the ceramics got influenced by the pan

flute, also there is a big mystery surrounding the

Atlantis and ancient civilizations and perhaps its music

from that time?

OV – HT

That is a wonderful way to converse with your vases –

that you play music for them and then they become the

instrument too. In shamanic cultures it’s also common to

create pottery to the sound of music or a song.

I have been very interested in how sound influences

shapes. Usually it is the form of an instrument that

shapes the sound, but with your approach it seems to

go both ways.

Oh and I’m sure your vases are alive!

What I like about your work so much is that it is full

of the story. It does not tell a story, but the story tells

it. I think our world is full of facts, but the story is

often disappearing. By “a story” I don’t mean a narrative or an explanation, but rather a myth, personal mag-

ic, something mad and ancient but unpredictable and unexplainable, because it’s much older than facts. It can

be traced back through some echoes of dreams, a child’s

imagination and language – or art – like yours. And with

you it is not an occasional discovery, but such a rich

source of this savage and pure otherworldliness.

Can’t wait to see Belissimo Thorsson! And I wish you to

find Echo in your vases and of course for the accountant to find back the right portal!

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