Þorlákur Einarsson, director i8 gallery, Reykjavik, Iceland: “In my field patience is a virtue. When you have a strong belief in an artist, you must be extremely patient for your hopes and dreams for them to materialize.”

August 10, 2022

Accelerator Programme was lucky to seal a strong partnership with i8 gallery in Reykjavik, Iceland, which means a substantiated transfer of know-how from a high-end gallery, strongly positioned in the international contemporary art landscape, despite its insularity. More than that, the programme benefitted from the expertise of the i8 gallery director, Þorlákur Einarsson, who was a key presence and a mentor in the programme. Þorlákur held the System of Contemporary Art laboratory.
Here are his insights after the end of Accelerator’s mentorship programme stage.

 

How do you see the motivation and drive level of Accelerator’s 10 emerging artists?

I was impressed by the level of professionalism and quality of work found in the group of Accelerator’s 10 artists. The group was formed out of a selection from a great deal of very promising applications (62 eligible ones submitted in the Open Call which was rolled out in March). In the light of that, all of them had something unique to bring to the table and were proven to be highly motivated in their practice. The artists are quite comfortable on their selected path, have a clear idea and understanding of where they currently stand.

One of the topics we discussed was the point of having a firm ground in the local area, but also to constantly think about networking outside Romania. This could be done by residencies, further studies, attending biennials, thereby not only promoting themselves, but also the contemporary Romanian art in an international dialogue.

What do you recommend our artists for their future endeavors?

In my conversation with the group, I emphasized that the emerging artists should become familiar with the basics of how the art world operates without becoming obsessed by it. In the end, it is their own practice that is the most important. I stressed the necessity of rigorously documenting their own career in such a manner that is readable to the outside world, and also to be able to revisit earlier points in their own career. We discussed pricing in detail, particularly about how pricing should reflect where they are in their career. Having to high prices at an early stage can be detrimental to the circulation of their work, and any hike in prices should be modest, gradual and based on concrete events, such as a museum show, etc.

Share with us a couple of learnings from your experience in contemporary art field, in your current role as director of i8 gallery?

In my field patience is a virtue. When you have a strong belief in an artist, you must be extremely patient for your hopes and dreams for them to materialize. Transparency is also of great importance, because it generates trust, both with artists and clients, and being frank and honest always pays off in the long run. Curiosity is another key, being interested in what other galleries and museums are doing, this has time and again proved to open the gates for new and exciting collaborations and bringing in new artists. Being focused on yourself, your city or country only is a recipe for stagnation.

What is a key project you worked on in 2022?

The highlight for me in 2022 was the retrospective of artist Birgir Andrésson at The Reykjavik Art Museum. Andrésson was an artist in our program when he tragically passed away in 2007 long before his time. We have been working with his estate ever since. I8 gallery was very much involved with getting all of his most important works together for this exhibition, as well as publishing an extensive catalogue on his works, that I was very much involved with as one of the editors. The exhibition was extremely well received, bringing his works to a new audience, who know Andrésson more by reputation, rather than having studied his works in great detail.

 

Photos: Retrospective of artist Birgir Andrésson, Reykjavik Art Museum – cover picture; Stockholm Market Art Fair

Accelerator project is financed with the support of EEA Grants 2014-2021 within the RO-CULTURE Programme and is implemented by Asociația Culturală Eastwards Prospectus.

The EEA Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway towards the reduction of economic and social disparities in Europe and towards strengthening the bilateral relations between the donor countries and the 15 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. The three donor countries cooperate closely with the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). The donors have provided €3.3 billion through consecutive grant schemes between 1994 and 2014. For the period 2014-2021, the EEA Grants amount to €1.55 billion. More information is available on www.eeagrants.org and www.eeagrants.ro.

RO-CULTURE Programme is implemented in Romania by the Ministry of Culture through the Project Management Unit. The Programme aims at strengthening social and economic development through cultural cooperation, cultural entrepreneurship and cultural heritage management. The total budget amounts to almost 34 million EUR. For more details access: www.ro-cultura.ro.