How important is Jóhann Eyfells art to the 21st Century? (part two)

I thought I would continue a discussion on the merits of art, but this time from the point of view of an art historian, critic and curator. Here is what Joseph Bravo wrote about an important art installation in the city of Reykjavik, Iceland, the Icelandic Cairn created by Jóhann Eyfells.

The Icelandic Cairn

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“During my recent trip to Iceland, I was glad to discover that the significance of Johann’s artistic achievements was appreciated by art historians and museum administrators in his homeland. While Johann may have spent a large portion of his creative life in the U.S., he has been and always will be an Icelandic artist. My recent trip to your beautiful country only further convinced me of the inextricable link between Iceland and the aesthetic optic of this extraordinary artist. 

The Icelandic landscape, the national character and the cultural context of Eyfell’s artistic practice are all clearly evident in his body of work. While his ideas and aesthetics have been in dialogue with the wider international art canon, the orientation of Johann’s inquiry is fundamentally connected to Icelandic indigenous perspectives and the instincts he derives from the landscape. Hayden de M. Yates’ cinematic biopic, “A Force In Nature: Johann Eyfells“, that premiered last week at RIFF, is aptly titled because the artist’s practice has been conceived from its inception to function as a force indistinguishable from nature. For Johann, both his existence and artwork are themselves the result of natural phenomena. 

Eyfell’s “Icelandic Cairn” sculpture currently on display in Reykjavik is of particular significance because it represents one of the most ambitious achievements in his bronze “Cairn” series. This series, perhaps as much if not more than any other in his deep oeuvre, bears the most literal testimony to the relationship between the artist’s aesthetic and the history of covalence between Icelanders and their physical environment. Johann Eyfell’s work has functioned on so many levels and touched on so many issues of art theory as to represent a heroic intellectual achievement spanning the scope of 20th century aesthetic priorities. In this important piece, he addresses conceptual issues of physics and metaphysics. The artist investigates organic form and environmentalism, chaos and hyper-complexity, superfluidity and spontaneity, the distinction between instinct and intuition, truth to materials and their iconographic implications, abstract expressionism vs. simulacrum as well as cosmopolitanism and indigenous cultural context. The artist’s expansive curiosity has allowed him to use his artistic practice as a mechanism of cosmological intellectual inquiry touching on an infinite number of theoretical facets. In “Icelandic Cairn”, he has achieved a masterwork of intellectual and aesthetic speculation. Eyfells has accomplished this without being derivative and while creating some of the most ground breaking sculptures in the history of Icelandic art in particular. His artwork is technically and conceptually innovative by any standard hence his intellectual contributions are of international significance to the wider global art canon. 

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The current site of the “Icelandic Cairn” sculpture is in many ways ideal as it faces out over the Faxafói Bay and symbolically connects Reykjavik with Mt. Esja. The aperture at the sculpture’s center ensures that the vista of Esja is never obscured and makes for a respectful compliment to the awe inspiring landscape. Its position along both pedestrian and automotive thoroughfares as well as its visibility from the sea affords optimum appreciation of the sculpture by local residents and visitors alike. Its proximity to other important sculptures allows it to convey gravity in keeping with the curatorial context of public artworks in the vicinity and is essential in the creation of a consistent and poetic narrative along the shoreline. Even its placement on the rubble stone base lends elegance to its appropriate presentation. Those responsible for its original installation are to be commended on their foresight and good judgment in how this was technically managed. 

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It is my sincerest hope that the “Icelandic Cairn” sculpture by Johann Eyfells becomes a permanent fixture in the civic landscape of Reykjavik. The citizens of the city and the nation of Iceland are indeed fortunate to have such an important artwork. It stands as yet another reason for well-deserved Icelandic cultural pride. Johann Eyfells is an Icelandic national treasure and one for which the rest of the world owes a debt of gratitude to Iceland for spawning and inspiring him to create such edifying artistic achievements.”   Joseph Bravo

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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

An insight from Jóhann – Light, Sound and Movement

I recently spoke to the artist, and as usual, I come away inspired. He called to say that he had some hopeful news coming from Iceland that some individuals are taking a keen interest in his work. He seemed optimistic that more and more people are beginning to understand his vision, “almost to a tee.” Personally speaking, in the 8+ years I’ve known Jóhann, I’ve seldom thought of him as being anything other than optimistic.

As always, he asked how I was faring, and how both my children were. He was especially interested in knowing how my own pursuit of a Master’s degree in Motion Picture & Television Directing was getting on. I told him I was inundated with the richness of academia. With regards to A Force in Nature, I told him we were in full post-production and we expect to be close to finishing.

He paused for a moment and then said the following: “Directing is understanding darkness, silence, and stillness.”  At first, I did not get it, but he proceeded to elaborate and said that “light is a consequence of darkness, sound a consequence of silence, and movement a consequence of stillness.” Because light, sound and movement are so fundamental to the making of any movie, I was now re-engaged, thanks to Jóhann, as I reflect on the role I am playing as a director of our film, A Force in Nature. In short, I was re-ignited by a man almost twice my age as I step away from my own effortless tendency towards complacency.

http://vimeo.com/52449621

password: “spirals”

JEyfells

Chapter 3 – Kale’s Vision

The last part of our journey was no less amazing. Johann’s niece, Margret and her husband Kale invited us to stay in the northern territory of Iceland, in Akureyri, where we stayed for the next two nights. The flight north with Air Iceland was also a treat since we were invited to accompany and film the pilots in the cockpit, one of whom happened to be Margret and Kale’s son. Once on the ground, our guide Kale would drive us 100’s of kilometers through lava fields, along coastal roads, into volcanoes and finally to one of the largest waterfalls in Europe, Dettifoss , one of the most spectacular sites I’d ever experienced.

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Chapter 2 – The Song Ingibjörg – An amazing journey, still unfolding…

We traveled about 7 hours toward the east and south to finally end up at Jökulsárlón where the huge glaciers are breaking off into the sea.

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The people of Iceland

Páll of Húsafelli - artist and musician

Páll of Húsafelli – artist and musician

Here’s  a link to Páll Gudmundsson’s site: http://www.pallg.is/Default.asp?Sid_Id=320&tId=1&Tre_Rod=&qs

Chapter 1 – Ingólfur and the Ghost Crevice – Filming A Force in Nature in Iceland

Since Monday, we have been traveling through some of the most remote and breath taking areas of Iceland, and here are some photos of the actual shoot to prove it. Anderson Seal, from Newport Beach, California, is our camera assistant extraordinaire and friend, and we are so lucky to have him with us. Ingólfur Eyfells,  Jóhann Eyfells’ son, has been our amazing guide, cultural attaché and location coordinator, and the rest of his family have been so gracious and kind to accommodate us these last 2 days and throughout the three weeks we will be in Iceland.

Don’t forget to check out our teaser trailer for the film on Vimeo:  https://vimeo.com/37860833

The first part of our journey, Chapter 1, was meticulously organized and guided by Jóhann Eyfells’ son, Ingólfur Eyfells. Being a project manager of a company that is solely in charge of operating Iceland’s electricity transmission grid, and also an avid hiker and adventurer,  Ingólfur’s knowledge of the interior country and its people was critical in our search for images that captured the very essence of this incredibly beautiful country. His own experiences growing up as a child also led us to places where we gained valuable insight into the lore, history and culture of the Icelandic people.

The Ghost Crevice was one such place, where it is said that spirits that were lurking and bothering the local farmers below were relocated to this giant crevice in the hills so that they could move on to the afterlife. When we did hike through and into the crevice and reached its very depths, it occurred to us that there was not a single sound that could be heard, except that which came from our own breaths and footsteps. Once inside this tall, naturally shaped, spiraling cathedral, we completely felt alone in another world along with the absolute stillness that seem to echo the mysteries of the world unknown. This experience alone has without a doubt made a deep impression in my own psyche. Simon and Garfunkel’s  Sound of Silence has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

With Ingólfur, we must have traveled hundreds of miles of dirt roads to see and experience some of the most breathtaking landscapes the world has ever created. Iceland is an island that continues to be formed and changed by its volcanic nature and temperament, so the landscapes are ever changing and diverse.

Ciaran Hope – a.k.a. Ciaran Dóchas is our music supervisor for Forces of Nature.

Ciaran Hope – Music Composer and Supervisor

I want to take this opportunity to welcome an extremely talented and loyal friend, Ciaran Hope, to our team. Please take an opportunity to read about this man’s accomplishments and life.

Since first dipping his toes into the film mecca of Hollywood in the late 90’s, Irish composer Ciaran has diligently spent his time working for prestigious film and production companies, projects, and organizations. To this day, his original pieces are shaped from a rigorous, distinguished artistic training and strong affinity with the music.

As a former Fulbright Scholar in film music, Ciaran has been the recipient of awards such as the IMRO prize at the RTE Musician of the Future, the International Solstice Composition Prize, a National Training Commission for Film and Television Bursary, an Arts Council of Ireland Postgraduate Award and his music was a finalist at the International Clarinet Association Composition Contest and the International Song for Peace Contest, while his work on the Hollywood feature film The Insider was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Ciaran has been commissioned to create classical pieces for prestigious cultural groups and organizations such as the Czech Clarinet Quartet and the Latvian Ministry of Arts and Culture and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan, where his new work will be the signature tune for the centre and will be played before performances, at launches, exhibition openings and other publicity events. His recent commission for children’s string orchestra, titled “A Spring Morning” premiered on the main concert stage at Euro Disney and the Church of Sainte-Merri in Paris during the summer of 2011 and the reaction from the performers, parents and audience was phenomenal.

Since being awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Project Bursary Award to write a new violin concerto for violinist Cora Venus Lunny, violinist and composer have been collaborating closely on the new concerto. Ciaran has also undertaken residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Artist’s retreat in Co. Monaghan and the Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat in remote Co. Kerry to work on the concerto, with the kind support of a 2011 Tyrone Guthrie Centre regional Bursary Award and a 2012 Cill Rialaig Residency Award.

Internationally, Ciaran’s music has been performed at showcases such as the Electro-acoustic music Festival of Cadiz, the Symposium of Brazilian Computer Music and the Logan Chamber Music Series in the famed Chautauqua Institute, New York. This year, his music was selected for performance at the second Beijing Irish Modern Music Festival of Beijing on March 18th 2012. He has also contributed music towards films that have been featured at over 40 film festivals around the world and have enjoyed commercial success in the U.S. entertainment industry as a composer for major entertainment companies, including Walt Disney, Trimark Pictures, Alcon Entertainment, TomandAndy, and Alliance Atlantis.

Commercially, his 2006 album, Etude in Film Score, was so successful that it made the top 40 sales at CDBaby.com in its first month. A track from the album, “Childhood Ends,” was selected for inclusion on an exclusive, limited release CDBaby promotional CD due to the album’s success.

Ciaran has also participated in BMI’s prestigious Conducting Workshop, where an elite group of 8 composers out of their 400,000 membership are chosen to spend two weeks working intensely with a conductor and live musicians at the musicians union in Los Angeles. His ‘classmates’ included World Soundtrack Award Winning and Golden Globe nominated composer Abel Korzeniowski, BMI Award winner Juan Carlos Rodriguez and Emmy nominated Annie winning composer Guy Moon.

As a speaker, Ciaran have given master classes on composing for film at a variety of venues including Trinity College Dublin, the Dundalk Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado at Denver and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan. In December 2010, at the behest of the Provost Dr. John Hegarty, he organized a panel discussion that took place in the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin which focused on music placement and scoring in film and TV and gave master classes on film composition to Trinity postgraduate and undergraduate music students. The panel sold out in 3 days.

With a Masters degree in audio acoustics and a keen interest in all things audio, Ciaran has also published several research papers in audio acoustics and is currently exploring a new research project into the sonic stimulation of cell cultures at the world famous Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Having completed writing and recording string arrangements for producer Noel Hogan of The Cranberries, his new score to the new Hollywood feature film Truth About Kerry starring Stana Katic(ABC’s CASTLE) is being very well received. It has just been announced that Ciaran was awarded the position of Composer in Residence for 2013 in the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, where he will work on a new opera on the life of Robert Emmet.