In this little video essay, Jóhann explains that “chance” and GOD are interchangeable in concept. (click on image)
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.
See this teaser, A Force in Nature (password: spirals), a feature length documentary film looking at the life and work of Jóhann Eyfells.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The following poem was written by Jóhann Eyfells, which was also part of his thesis:
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,
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
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.
Here’s a link to Páll Gudmundsson’s site: http://www.pallg.is/Default.asp?Sid_Id=320&tId=1&Tre_Rod=&qs
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.