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

World Premier at the 2017 Hill Country Film Festival – April 27-30

 

I don’t know if I am awake or dreaming any of this, or if in fact the making of our film, A Force in Nature, has reached its final conclusion, giving way to a new phase in the film’s life cycle. We helped it along through its conception and development, and now it’s about to be born out for the world to see and experience for the first time.

Finishing A Force in Nature was undoubtedly a personal challenge for me. Through the course of the ten years of production/post-production, I would often wonder if it would ever get finished, especially since this film was mostly self-funded. The close collaboration I had with co-producer and editor Vishwanand Shetti (aka. V.) during the past 6 years was not only an extraordinary opportunity to learn the art of perseverance and patience with getting the project finished, but also afforded V. and I the space to explore the depths of Jóhann’s life and his thought provoking art installations.

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 10.49.07 AM.png

The 2017 Hill Country Film Festival will be where the film will have its first public exhibition on Saturday, April 29. For me personally, this process of making this film has also fostered a long and lasting collaborative friendship with both V and Jóhann Eyfells, who continue to have an unwavering influence on me as a human being and artist.

Being an artist is nothing short of insanity, yet its the type of insanity the world needs right now, desperately! Its the right kind of insanity, in which we are challenged to allow ourselves to experience the unexpected and spontaneous, and be aware of the forces that keep us complaisant and indifferent. When taking action or making a gesture, an artist does so without hesitation because he/she knows that the expression itself has to be authentic and immediate. The artist does not allow fear to dictate the decisions and choices he/she makes, but rather fear is merely there to signal that an action and/or thought is to take place.

As is often the case, when in the presence of Jóhann, one is constantly put to the intellectual test. Recently, Jóhann Eyfells and I discussed the difference between the concepts of “instinct” and “intuition”. He asked me if I knew the difference. Hesitantly, I responded that I thought I had good intuition and instinct and admittedly used both words interchangeably, not really aware of the difference. Jóhann was quick to point out the difference to me, explaining that “instinct”, which comes from deep within our nature to feel, is spontaneous and tireless, while “intuition”, which is more connected with intellectual reasoning, is more deliberate and sluggish. That got me thinking. Once more Jóhann challenges me to get in the ring and participate in the fight against complacency, and to do that, I must be willing to jump headfirst into the dark abyss, in other words, the unknown.

Do you know the difference between “instinct” and “intuition?”

Hayden de M. Yates (director and co-producer)

Visit HillCountryff.com and book your festival passes now. A Force in Nature will be screening on Saturday, April 29 at 11am.

The Opposite of Murphy’s Law

The life and work of Jóhann Eyfells is a constant reminder that “if something can go right, it will go right.” Since the first day I met with my friend Jóhann, almost nine years ago, my life has taken a whole new meaning, and for the better, without a doubt.

JEyfells2See this teaser, A Force in Nature (password: spirals), a feature length documentary film looking at the life and work of Jóhann Eyfells.

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

Power of Passage – Reykjavik Museum of Art – Jóhann Eyfells

A major exhibit of Jóhann Eyfells’ collaption along with a video installation by filmmaker, Þór Elís Pálsson at Iceland’s Reykjavik Museum of Art.

As the title suggests, Power of Passage explores the passing moment and its image. The focal point of the exhibition is the large scale Cloth Collapsion by Jóhann Eyfells (b. 1923) which is shown alongside a three-channel video installation created by video artist Þór Elís Pálsson, using his own interviews with Eyfells about his philosophy of art and life.

The exhibit is from September 12 to January 6, 2013

See the trailer for A Force in Nature, a full length documentary film about the artist.

http://vimeo.com/50200612

Rediscovering Kristin Halldorsdottir Eyfells

Kristin Halldorsdottir Eyfells

In Iceland, the day that you are born, you are somebody, whether girl or boy. Your family name is your father’s, however, Icelanders take it one step further and tack on your gender. For example, when the artist Kristin Halldorsdottir was born in a small village inland from Reykjavik, she was given the name Kristin by her parents, but her surname was “the daughter of Halldors.” Had she been a boy, she would have been named “the son of Halldors.” This clears up any confusion in communications as to the gender of the newborn child, a matter of extreme importance in Iceland. In the Icelandic language, there are different greetings for  males and females, nouns have gender as in German, and opportunities for girls, until recent times, have been limited.

Kristin Eyfells, the eldest of six children, grew up admiring her father, a rural doctor serving Icelandic families. He recognized her keen intellect early on and took her with him on his visits to his patients living on isolated farms throughout the territory. Very early in her life she developed an unquenchable ambition to make large contributions. Her interests were many. She loved clothing and design, psychology, music, photography and especially visual arts. By the time she met Jóhann Eyfells in Berkeley, California in 1948, she was already a very independent dress designer and businesswoman. She owned a dress shop in Reykjavik, while attending design school in Berkeley.

By the 1950’s, she was married to Jóhann and embarking on a new career as a painter and sculptor. Kristin would leave a lucrative career as a clothing industry entrepreneur to become a visual artists. Jóhann, would also eventually distance himself away from working as a licensed architect and ambitiously devote his life as a fine artist. With a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of Florida, she continued her studies in fine art, applying all of her experiences and education toward her goal of producing formidable art.

Jóhann & Kristin

What is great art? Simply put, it is art that has the power to change your thinking in a “truthful” way. It does not shock or offend, rather it brings you to new insights and heightens your esthetic appreciation of the world. This is what Kristin Eyfells attempted to do when she began painting people. Her most ambitious and recognized body of work is entitled “Famous Faces“, in which all of her subjects are people of notoriety. Not all of her subjects were famous though. She did a body of work entitled “Anonymous Faces” that reveal her subjects’ deepest feelings and strengths. In this series she wanted to focus on women whose surface beauty is defined by a mask of make up, yet still exposing underneath another more subtle mask of defensiveness, which suggests that Kristin, in spite of this double mask (mask within a mask) carried by her subjects, had the uncanny ability to reveal the inner beauty and vulnerability of the person through the layers of paint and color.

After 32 years of producing “great art”, Kristin Eyfells died in Orlando, Florida from complications brought on by a stroke. She was 85 years old. In 2003, Jóhann Eyfells moved to Fredericksburg, Texas from Orlando, and brought with him both his large body of work as well as Kristin’s. It was a monumental undertaking, but it presented him with a new challenge of being and creating without his life partner. He continues to work to this day on new bodies of work, and his major goal for the remaining years of his life is to see Kristin Eyfells, the artist, move to the forefront of American art. Presently, her “Famous Faces” series is being exhibited at the International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) in McAllen, Texas.

Self Portrait by the artist

We, here in the Hill Country, are lucky to have Kristin Halldorsdottir Eyfells’ large body of work housed at the Eyfells & Eyfells Sculpture & Art Ranch, just 5 miles west of Fredericksburg, Texas. Jóhann, her husband of 52 years, is also exhibiting her “Anonymous Faces” series in the Sunken Gallery. Outdoor visitors are welcome to come and visit anytime and see this exceptional collection.

Written by Sherryl Brown

Meaning – a poem

The following poem was written by Jóhann Eyfells, which was also part of his thesis:

MEANING

Conceptions of man,

Synthesized in active structures of cosmic rhythms.

Unadulterated formative forces,

Expanding the vistas of emotional discourse,

Convictions transformed in actions,

Attitudes and inward visions,

Hewn in harmonic forms and spaces,

Conceived in the circular expanse of barren horizons.

Rebelling against random nature,

Symbol of cohesion,

Heralded,

Staunch mark of its epoch,

Bearing meanings extracted from life,

Affirming implicit spiritual liberation,

In sky oriented forms of living faith.

Forces in Nature – Jóhann Eyfells  a documentary film

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.

Gold

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.

Iceberg2