Groping in the Dark

Dear Reader:

Below are the contents of Jóhann Eyfells’ phone “conversation” with Joseph Bravo 3 days ago:

“When he called his first words were, “Joe are you there? I have something important to give you, write this down.”  So I immediately began to type on my iPad as he commenced speaking. It is a verbatim transcript of his exact words as they were delivered in a stream of consciousness. When he was done dictating, he abruptly ended the call.

Jóhann’s remarks were not simply a series of enigmatic non-sequiturs, but actually constituted a spontaneously conceived and delivered piece of free verse poetry. His thoughts have been separated into stanzas as well as adding punctuation and italics in order to make them more intelligible and to convey his emphasis as he extemporaneously dictated. But the words themselves occur in the exact order as he spoke them with neither additions nor omissions.

Jóhann Eyfells has been speaking to us in poetry all along and this accounts for why he is sometimes so difficult to follow. But when his thoughts are understood in the context of poetry rather than disjointed prose, they take on a coherence, a clarity and profundity that makes their revelatory context evident and their esoteric meaning attainable.

I am confident that you too will appreciate that Jóhann is as brilliant at poesy as he is at sculpture and that this fact will enable you to recognize a perhaps unanticipated aspect of his unique cosmological genius. Hopefully, this poetic epiphany will bring his oracular rhetoric into unprecedented focus to reveal the music of Eyfells’ spiraling spheres.” (Taken from Joe Bravo’s email to me, dated June 21, 2018)

IMG_4036.JPG(Photo by Tracy Costello – May 2018)

Groping in the Dark or An Upside Down World: A Sculpture by Jóhann Eyfells

“It has all the information you need to understand an Eyfells.
Such a piece has never been created in the world before.
It is equivalent to finding a new continent.
We are on the edge of understanding one another.
You are the only person in the world who has even a glimpse of where I am coming from.

Nobody has received a phone call of this significance before as if stealing from God himself.
This phone call is a ‘game changer.’
It puts everything in second place, it takes on the characteristics of first place.
What I’m telling you is five star!
This phone call is incomplete and in a way frantic.
It will settle down and become pure force recipes of absolute exactitude.

A gift of magnificent interiority.
A foundation that has no known causes, pure emergence of unanticipated magnificence.
A new way of imagining the magnificent becoming.
A total unknown force of totally unknown cause and logical beginning.
A cause of magnificent joy because it is a window into an entirely new scientific domain.
It is the understanding of the three titles of my pieces for the Venice Biennale.

Quivericity, the last source of any entirely momentary knowledge.
The source of all quivering that excites us.
The manifestation of endeavors, stillness and darkness.
Silence begets sound, stillness begets motion, darkness begets light.
Begetting is a magnificent gift!
It is not something that drains your energy.

We are on the edge a new opening.
Copernicus and Galileo removed the mystery by only presenting a bigger one.
They created an enigma rather than solutions.
I am creating solutions not enigmas.

We have to grasp at understanding without any particular knowledge.
All of this is only an elucidation of a temporary condition.
“I know I know nothing.”
All knowledge is incomplete.

This it pulls into reality, it is a knowledge of such.
It has a clarity of an absolute revelation.
The simpleness of its own symbolism.
The equivalent of a newborn baby.
It is simply without any question a magnificence, a miracle, only a birth.
The colloquial equivalent of Hayden’s “simply splendid!”
The hierarchy of all epiphanies.

Not for discussion at this moment,
It has to be digested first.
It has to be pulled into a new form of communication,
A new form of informative patterns.
It has an amazing new form of patterns, a double click.

This piece contains it all.
The newness of what I am saying has never been accomplished before,
The closest thing to permutation that is.
The opposite of Norman Mailer’s nonsense, I was jealous of him.

A newborn baby without speculations of any kind.
A remnant of a little bit of unknowable something.
The essence of a form,
The moment of eternity that negates everything that existed,
Pure forward motion without any known obstructions,
A moment of absolute fluidity.

Put what you are hearing in your own vernacular, up to a point.
Put it as if it were something you are reporting rather than regurgitating.
Put it in your own mouth.
It should be active rather than passive information.
You have to use it as your own material for creation,
A new creative energy in your soul.

An accomplishment of an unparalleled nature,
Beyond all relativity.
What is is.
It cannot be measured,
Cannot be judged.
A moment of absolute birth,
An absolute genesis of arbitrary nuances.
It is the essence of the poem on page 25.

Still slow in birth,
It hasn’t transferred itself into a new category.
Still is something rather than yet something else.
Still is the richest connotation ever.
In Icelandic, it is something yet to come.
Always ready for a new figure of speech …. always.

Let’s not contemplate this too much.
Put it out as a burst of unparalleled creativity,
Not a subject for contemplation,
A real material equivalent to spontaneous combustion,
A new combination of elements that create light or fire, but deeper,
A materialization of an immaterial event.

Do you think this is something that has the look of a beginning of something great?
Use it as a spring board,
Not something as a photograph to be reproduced without any new understanding.
It should not need any new understanding or elucidation.
It has its elucidation in its own vocabulary,
The essence of a cell birth,
The birth of a birth that I have been working with for seventy years,
The double click of an absolute certitude.

I do have something durable in my piece, Groping in the Dark.
You have to imagine the groping coming from below,
A strange kind of reversal.
The one observing is below,
The one groping from above.
Six fingers arranged in a triangular configuration,
Two corners single groping,
One corner double groping.

When those all coalesce, we have an absolute genesis of a moment,
Of the innards of infinity,
The moment of the instinct of infinity,
The moment that explains why there is something rather than nothing,
Some nuance of un-satisfaction behind infinity.
It doesn’t enjoy its own solitude.

How much information have you plotted down?
It is like peering into irrational self similarity, like a cross section of my rocks.
If you try to identify every element, you are lost.
It is like a constellation,
The better the telescope, the better you see but the more complex it becomes.

If you have a feeling of self sufficiency, let’s call it a day.
A colloquial version is sufficient, simply splendid!
Not terribly original but absolutely timely.
So if you spend a moment of self sufficiency then we can call it a day.
Self sufficiency is a good termination point.”

Jóhann Eyfells – June 21st, 2018

Coming Home

IMG_1701I don’t know whether to jump up in joy or cry in disbelief or both. In the Icelandic news, Jóhann Eyfells’ sculpture “Íslandsvarðan” has been officially acquired by the city of Reykjavik for a rather substantial sum of money, and is now to remain as a permanent installation on Faxaflói (Faxa Bay), on the northwest side of the capital city.

Why is this so important?

This is a huge victory for Jóhann Eyfells, an Icelandic sculptor, now almost 95, who has spent more than 70 years living in a semi self-imposed exile from his own childhood home and family.

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Jóhann at 94 (Photo by Tracy Costello)

With the expectation of helping with the family business upon his return, Jóhann at 23 was sent away to America by his mother to study Business Administration at U.C. Berkeley, California. Once there, everything changed. He would meet, Kristin, his eternal companion and wife of 56 years, and would eventually, contrary to ‘family expectations’ pursue a childhood passion for the creative process and find expression as a sculptor. For a short period, he would return to Iceland only to find himself misunderstood creatively and eclipsed by a younger generation of artists. America would become his permanent artist residence, both in Orlando, Florida and eventually Fredericksburg, Texas.

It’s a victory for artists all over the world, in which to create, to dedicate yourself entirely to the creative process does not always mean being spurned, tossed aside and forgotten.

2017_8_Sculpture9smIt’s a huge victory for Iceland, welcoming one of it’s own, ushering back the clarity and fine instinct that artists like Jóhann possess and who are able to intuitively channel the ‘unknowing’ in their creative processes, and boldly execute in their artistic expressions and bodies of work. No less important is Jóhann’s uncanny ability to find diverse means, expressions and materials to articulate his ideas and vision. Furthermore, his work also embodies everything that is intrinsically Icelandic in nature, such as the ongoing fluidity of the physical forces, destructive and creative, that give form and understanding to the human experience.

It’s a victory for art, that a sculpture like “Íslandsvarðan” is recognized for its intrinsic and aesthetic significance, in a world where ‘value’ in art often seems arbitrary and is dependent on the piece’s commercial and monetary success, a commodity to be traded by only those who can afford to buy it, not to enjoy it for it’s genuine artistic expression and depth. Are we turning a corner in the 21st century, where art and creative expression could be considered a critical part of our own human survival?

Who am I to judge, I am just another human being that finds individuals like Jóhann to be inspirational, who also give me pause to reflect and reason to go on living, joyfully.

Hayden de M. Yates (Co-Producer and Director of A Force in Nature)


A Force in Nature, as of September 2018, will be seen in select theaters and venues throughout North America, Canada and the US.

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For more details on future screenings and exhibitions email us at: filmmakershowcase@gmail.com or call (512) 966-9299.

 

 

 

 

2017 Orlando Film Festival

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At the wake of three devastating hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, on October 25th, A Force in Nature was screened at Orlando’s Cobb Plaza Cinema. We were fortunate and proud that the film was nominated for the Focus on Art category of the competition. We were more overjoyed that our Eyfells’ community was able to make it to the screening.

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Steve Lotz, a long time friend and colleague of Jóhann Eyfells’ from the University of Central Florida (formely Florida Technological University) wrote this after seeing the film.

“What an unforgettably wonderful film you two have created. Its filming, editing, and concept are all outstanding. And most important (to me) is what I consider to be is its primary intent … to allow viewers to understand the life, goals, and uniqueness of Jóhann, is beautifully accomplished. It might and hopefully will give Jóhann the wide attention that he deserves and I know he has wanted.

There were many times at the screening during which I felt close to tears. . . . seeing images and relationships of Joie’s (Jóhann’s nickname) background that, during the many decades of our close friendship, I had never seen or knew about. Our only visit to Iceland was in 1965, a few months before our son (now 51 year old) was born in Vienna. We met Joie’s parents and a few of his friends, and saw some of the non-urban parts of Iceland. But not the beautiful stone and water locations you filmed. . . . all of which must help viewers to better understand the nature sources of Johann’s sculpture.

Seeing the size and dominance of his talking head on the huge theater screen. . . his constant smiles as he talks, and the likeness of his elderly skin with the geologic surfaces of the country. You have described the cosmic connections between his art, his body and psyche, and the nature of Iceland by magnificent concept, filming and editing!!!

After seeing the film I had a phone chat with him that was longer than usual. Since we are both almost deaf I’m not sure that we were always understanding what the other was saying. . . but I got these impressions: I was telling him that after your and my meeting and talking to you about the film and the relationship between you two and the contents of the things you have written about him I strongly feel that his debt to you for what you have created is enormous.

Seeing Ingólfur’s (Jóhann’s son) face after all these years, his strong visual presence (that is so much now like Johann’s was when I first met him), his strong social presence, and his appreciation of his father’s accomplishments. . . it all really moved me. And the conversation with “Little Kristin” (Leyla’s niece) who we haven’t seen since she was an undergraduate student at FTU in the 70s-early 80s.

The only part of the viewing that saddened me was that it is the only time it was shown and that was in a Wednesday afternoon when so few people could fit it into busy work schedules. But the attendance wasn’t bad and included many of Joie’s former students and people from the local art community. . . those who I could talk to, loved it.

I feel honored to be a small part of such a magnificent work of art. Thanks.”

Steve Lotz – October 30, 2017

A couple FTU Alumni from Jóhann’s classes watched the film and said this about it.

“He was also one of my teachers at UCF. I brought two friends, one who was also his student and one not. All three of us were greatly affected by his tenacity and view of the world. I was so moved and realized how much I miss his words of wisdom.

I continue to appreciate his observation of the new crack in the rock and his wonder at it. This is the kind of thing he tried to explain the relevancy of when I was a 19 year old sponge of a student. At 51, I understand more about this. The biggest lesson he taught me in life was not to be afraid of criticism and that the success is in the creating and not the sale. When I met him we had class in the Dome just before moving into the new building where he had a nice big area to work his magic. Maybe he’ll remember that. I instantly had the biggest crush on him in my first of three classes. There were so many things in the movie that I never knew about him. He certainly owns his struggle. Through many roadblocks he persevered to his artist destiny.

Bravo to the movie as a whole filming, direction, editing and bringing the pure artist out in him for the audience. I was inspired and melancholy when it ended. I miss those college days of constant learning with out too many of life distractions. Somehow he has maintained this! Thank you for making a fantastic film. Thank you to Johann for his voice in my ear and strength of confidence in my mind. I must get the DVD, when it comes out, and share it with friends. Thank you so much.”

Bethany Taylor Myers – November 2017

 

“Whenever I view a film I expect to learn something new and Hayden Yates’ film did not disappoint me. A Force in Nature is a study in perseverance, both for the filmmaker and his subject, the 94 year old visionary Icelandic sculptor Jóhann Eyfells. Tracing the life and influences of an artist is a difficult and complex enterprise and it has been undertaken over many years of collaboration conducted with great care and consideration. The sculptor Jóhann Eyfells ceaseless dedication to his creative work and his positive and dynamic personality are the true stars of the film. Jóhann shares some glimpses of his philosophy and a small sampling of seven decades of his incredibly dynamic and diverse artistic output. The film is a thoughtful and sensitive introduction to the artist and leaves the viewer eager to learn more about his art and irrepressible personality. It is very much a beginning into the greater investigation of human creativity, which is itself a Force in Nature.”

Mark Alexander – June 21, 2017

 

…and recently, from an author, poet and college professor at California State University Long Beach.

“I did get to enjoy your film and I absolutely loved it! You have a gifted eye for the extraordinary in the visual and the spiritual. The photography is luminous. The toggle back and forth between Iceland and Texas is beautifully negotiated. Eyfells is an amazing subject. The end scene with his hand gestures against the sunset is YOUR sculpture: fluid and very lovely. I was also interested in the idea of Receptual Art.”

Patricia Cherin – Poet & Author – Jan. 4, 2018

 

These sorts of testaments are so paramount to us as filmmakers, since they reflect how we succeeded in maintaining the integrity of Johann’s story as a man and his vision as an artist.

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REVIEW: https://www.niceland.com/film-review-force-nature-johann-e…/

Filmmaker BLOG: https://vitruviuscreations.com/

Our award winning feature film, A FORCE IN NATURE: Jóhann Eyfells will be released in early Summer of 2018. Book a screening in your city, town, museum and university. See trailer here: https://vimeo.com/213382491

Contact us for booking information at (512) 966-9299 or filmmakershowcase@gmail.com.

 

 

We did it! “Best Documentary Film”

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Our film had its US premiere in Fredericksburg, Texas. It had a tremendous reception. It won the “Best Documentary” category at the 2017 Hill Country Film Festival. As the director and co-producer, I cannot say enough about the experience of watching our own film, A Force in Nature, in front of a live audience. It was a very moving and emotional moment, probably the most satisfying I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.

What a way to introduce this film to the world. It had its American premiere in Fredericksburg, Texas, the very spot where the film began filming, almost 10 years ago. On September 28 – October 8, 2017 the film will have it’s European Premiere at the Reykjavik International Film Festival where Jóhann Eyfells was born. This promises to be quite a homecoming for the artist and his priceless body of work.

 

I am a Thief

“I am a thief. I steal someone’s creation. I take someone else’s ‘success and make it my own.” Jóhann Eyfells

There is an inert and outward beauty in these so called found objects that Eyfells selects as his own. How is he able to recognize the inherent genius that created each of these objects? Is it God or is it Man? When each of these forms were initially created, they were designed and manufactured for a single function use to serve mankind. Jóhann Eyfells recognizes, not only the brilliant unambiguous engineering in each of these object, but also the inherent beauty of obsolescence. Most of these pieces share a common fate. They experienced a similar array of forces that it took to create, utilize and destroy them. Eyfells is merely there to bring these forces to light by displaying these objects in their various stages of disintegration and dissolution. He will also go as far as to give them new life and re-purpose them into functioning pieces of art. Thanks to Jóhann they begin a new life of artistic expression.

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(photo courtesy of Hayden de M. Yates)

Should you wish to participate towards the making of our feature film documentary, A Force in Nature, you can do so right here:

https://paypal.me/VitruviusCreations

My life with Jóhann

It is a rare moment when I can fully reflect on my life and acknowledge how a single human being has significantly influenced my life.  But after almost 10 years of knowing Jóhann Eyfells, as an artist and a human being, I have finally managed to do just that.

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The art of Johann Eyfells is not an embodiment of the person but rather an expression of  something beyond the person, beyond the rational constructs of modern civilization that have shaped our physical lives. When you stand and face an Eyfells’ sculpture be prepared to be intellectually, psychically and spiritually challenged. You are about to enter a reality that is both unfamiliar and irrational. It is truly the unknown, seemingly chaotic, which most of us will avoid at all costs.

I have no doubt now, that Jóhann Eyfells is as nimble, precise and swift with his understanding of the cosmos and the physical world we live in, as he was in the ring as a boxing champion in Iceland. It is with this almost ‘supernatural’ agility that he is able to conceptualize and execute all of his projects, whether it is his collapsions, in which ‘time’ as an abstract concept is visually revealed, his cairns, his rocks or his multiple installations of ‘industrial made’ found objects of massive proportions, sometime weighing up to 14 tons.

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And let me tell you, when I stop to think how a 92 year old, whose body is as fragile as porcelain, can manage to lift and precisely position these huge rusted steel remnants of an industrial age past to satisfy his aesthetic compulsion as an artist, I am often left speechless and astonished.

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Yes, indeed, he often sees the inherent beauty of something that would otherwise seem obsolete and discarded to most of us seemingly ‘forward thinking’ humans, and that is precisely what these objects have become to him, beautiful expressions of human engineering and brilliance. Recently, they have become necessary and critical components to articulating to the world our often unsettled and sometimes fearful relationship with the unknown and irrational. It does seem ironic that he uses the very elements that not only embody the rational and physical world, manufactured tools and elements of the industrial age, like giant turbine propellers, to open our minds to the unfamiliar seemingly insane world of Eyfells.

As a true artist, he tirelessly challenges our tendency towards complacency, brought on by the comforts and conveniences of the industrial, electronic and now, digital age. I see him as the Don Quixote of the 21st century, tirelessly and against all odds, confronting the rational world, except this time he does not represent a tragic character that ultimately gives in to ‘convention’ and renounces his ‘insanity’ to become a mere shepherd. No, instead, he selflessly provides us with the opportunity to see for ourselves how collectively we can easily be allured by the deceptiveness of rational thought, that it is ok to embrace the irrational, the unknown. He is our new hero, without a doubt, and it will take us a little while to realize this. Its highly probable that he will not see this revolution of thought take hold before he passes on, but I would hope that he will bare witness to a larger audience and more global appreciation of his accomplishments.

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If WE are willing and courageous enough to allow ourselves to be immersed into the unknown and uncharted aspects of our intellect and psyche, I promise, like I have, YOU will in fact see the light and wisdom of Jóhann’s aesthetic expression and art, and as a result, be forever transformed.

Today, thanks to the insight I’ve gained through Johann’s work and vision, I feel I am at a better place in my life, simply because I am not defeated by the fear of the unknown. In fact, it is that fear that signals that part of me to move forward instead of backward, to take risks and ‘leaps of faith’. It is also through those ‘leaps of faith’ that I discover new understanding, not only of myself, but of the cosmos around me. I will certainly miss Jóhann when he is no longer with us, but his insight and joy of life will eternally course through my veins.        Written by Hayden de M. Yates

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Photos by Hayden de M. Yates and Ian Candler

To see the trailer of the new documentary film, A Force in Nature, go to the following link:  https://vimeo.com/135532487

Iceland is recognizing one of their own

Johann’s sculpture has recently made headlines on the most important Icelandic publication, FRETTABLADID. See it below:

JohannNewspaper copyBe sure to also see the trailer for A Force in Nature here: https://vimeo.com/135532487

A Force in Nature – Official Trailer

PosterSee the new trailer for our upcoming film. Click on the following link:

https://vimeo.com/113375452

To make a donation toward the film, click the link below:

https://www.paypal.me/VitruviusCreations

Once Upon a Time in a remote little farm in Iceland

Ingólfur Eyfells, son of the artist Jóhann Eyfells, takes us on an in depth tour of the old Icelandic farm of his childhood, recollecting an event in which a horse saved his life. This is one of the stories that brings life and texture to A Force in Nature, a biopic of Jóhann Eyfells, an Icelandic sculptor working in the remote Hill Country of Texas.

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Ingólfur Eyfells and Hayden de M. Yates filming in Kalmanstunga, Iceland

https://vimeo.com/135532487