Hreinn Fridfinnsson was born in Iceland in 1943 and is considered by many professionals to be a major but paradoxically unknown conceptual artist. Perhaps this is due to his very low profile and insular activity until the early 1970s. From 1960 to 1970, he worked and exhibited mainly in Iceland using the photographic medium. He was one of the founders of the SUM group of artists and the eponymous gallery in 1965, together with Sigurdur Gudmunsson, Dieter Roth (the Fluxus artist who lived in Iceland for ten years) and the whole group of "innovative" Icelandic artists. The SUM exhibitions in Reykjavik allowed Icelandic contemporary art to assert itself both in the local context and on the international art scene.
His works are rooted in conceptual art tempered with poetry and radical formal reflections. Fridfinnsson has always eschewed trendy effects in favour of ideas. His recent exhibitions have all revealed intense creations that take into account the physical characteristics of a space. His works are allegories of fragility, disappearance (or appearance) and unlike many conceptual works are not emotionally 'dry'.
The Fall, on display in the Wunderkammer at Meessen De Clercq, is a work from 2006. It consists of a long text written on a large wall and a tiny meteorite on a base. The text seems to refer to the origin of this meteorite, but there is no indication that the story is not fiction. The doubt is total. A meteorite is a fragment of a celestial body that falls to Earth and therefore contains a strong mysterious charge, which fascinates Fridfinnsson.
In addition to such physical phenomena, the artist is intrigued by supernatural events: "I associate the term superstition with fear and what it can impose on everyday life. I don't know how Iceland and Icelanders are in this respect, so I don't feel targeted, but there is in us, I believe, a close link between the rational and the irrational, the normal and the paranormal that encourages the imagination and is comforting for the morale. Unfortunately I have never met a spirit, an elf or a ghost. But I do know of sane people who have. (...) Stories like this have fascinated me since childhood.”
Since 1971, Fridfinnsson has lived in Amsterdam and exhibited mainly in Europe but also in Japan. His last major exhibition was a retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2007.
Hreinn Fridfinnsson's work is included in numerous private and public collections including the Musée National d'Art Moderne Centre Pompidou (Paris), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), major museums in Iceland, Sweden, Finland and many FRACs (regional funds for contemporary art). In 2000, Hreinn Fridfinnsson was awarded the Prix Ars Fennica.