Hreinn Fridfinnsson (°1943, Dalir, Iceland) is considered by many professionals to be a major conceptual artist, but paradoxically little known. 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'.
After presenting The Fall in the Wunderkammer last March, Meessen De Clercq is now presenting works on the first floor that have been specially designed for the space. The exhibition, mischievously entitled Untitled, has its origins in the world of dreams. Taking The Dream, a work from 1973, as a starting point, Hreinn occupies one of the exhibition rooms with a text printed on a large wall. Two sentences (one written vertically, the other horizontally) referring to dreams, reflections and 'unannounced visits' during our sleep, intersect and meet in a common letter of intersection for both sentences. This sharing of the letter "i" unifies and brings together the content of these two quotes.
The other wall piece, 10:04, is composed of dozens of glass beads that appear to be randomly placed on the wall. On closer inspection, the attentive visitor realises that some of the beads in their arrangement form the hands of a clock and indicate a precise time. Once again, the tenuous and fragile aspect of this work favours the links between imagination and dream, between light and reflection, between real time and thought time.
The diptych Correspondence is symmetrically split in two. Composed of two envelopes each, each part responds from one space to the other. Intrigued by the subtle correspondences, Fridfinnsson places a black card in a white envelope and a white card in a black envelope in each. Again, if you pay attention, you notice a subtle difference between the two parts.
Two other works, May fly and Thunder and Lightning, are arranged even more discreetly, just above the small corridor connecting the two rooms. In each space, a fly used by fishermen rests on a suspended glass plate. Our point of view is that of the fish before it bites the hook. Small, unusual objects that Hreinn Fridfinnsson has been collecting since 2001, full of charm and colour, they can also be seen as touches of paint floating in space.