Submission
Sóley Ragnarsdóttir

Organizing Principles

A hyper-ornamented artistic universe emerging from a sculptural approach to painting unfolds in Sóley Ragnarsdóttir’s first institutional solo exhibition at O—Overgaden". With large-scale paintings and mobiles, amber, napkins, and seashells, Ragnarsdóttir presents a seductive environment that has evolved from her newly established life in a small village in rural Thy, by the North Sea. Life among amber hunters, fishermen, and surfers has made a profound impact on the artist’s unique visual language. In the exhibition "Organizing Principles", Ragnarsdóttir directs our eyes towards the life-giving symbiosis that can occur when otherwise separate materials, stories, and worlds meet and entangle. Her works are made from layered synthetic and natural materials: acrylic, epoxy, shells, amber, and ocean-blunted pieces of glass adorn canvases as well as napkins, surfboard materials, and wallpapers. With a pictorial language that extends from the canvases to the walls and frames, the artist invites us to step into a fascinating, aestheticized world flirting with kitsch and drawing lines to the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as to her Icelandic origins. The decorative tradition of handicraft has long figured as inferior to Fine Arts, but Ragnarsdóttir redirects attention to the artistic qualities of decoration as something valid and precious within the scope of contemporary art. Sóley Ragnarsdóttir (b. 1991, DK/IS) holds a MFA from Städelschule, Frankfurt (2014–19) under Amy Sillman, Monika Baer, and Nikolas Gambaroff, and has exhibited at Städel Museum in Frankfurt, Historisches Museum in Frankfurt, Jean Claude Maier in Frankfurt, and Kunstforum in Darmstadt.


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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Sóley Ragnarsdóttir: Organizing Principles, installation view, O-Overgaden, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

As the second chapter of the INTRO development program, O—Overgaden is excited to welcome the solo exhibition by selected artist Sóley Ragnarsdóttir

The hyper-decorative is particularly characteristic of Danish-Icelandic Sóley Ragnarsdóttir’s practice. In her first institutional solo exhibition, she presents a series of new works in the shape of paintings, sculptures, and two commissioned wallpapers altogether unfolding a marvelous and idiosyncratic symbiosis between materials, symbols, places, and stories.

With a sculptural approach to painting, Ragnarsdóttir colors and ornaments her works with synthetic as well as organic materials, mixing up acrylic and epoxy with shells, amber, and ocean-rounded pieces of glass. Referring to the British Arts & Crafts movement, that wanted to resurrect the aesthetic qualities of handicraft, Ragnarsdóttir insists on the validity and value of the decorative within the realm of contemporary art. The thousands of delicately executed brushstrokes, dots, and patterns, which repetitively fill every surface of the works, are also testament to an immense number of working hours and level of devotion that stand in stark contrast to the accelerating tempo of everyday life.

In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Ragnarsdóttir left vibrant Berlin to settle near the ocean in Thy, Northern Jutland. Surrounded by amber hunters, fishermen, and surfers she has allowed the ocean and immediate environment to enter her images. Large eyes made from the same material as surfboards and boats hang from the ceiling in fishing ropes in front of amber-tinted windows, while seashells and stones from the coast peek out. Nature is often perceived as the antithesis of culture but in Ragnarsdóttir’s eclectic universe the two are combined. As the title Organizing Principles suggests, she shares a poetic view of the world that breaks with the idea of classifying matter in separate categories.

Sóley Ragnarsdóttir (b. 1991) holds an MFA from Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany, and has exhibited at Städel Museum (Frankfurt), Kunstforum (Darmstadt), and most recently at Jean Claude Maier (Frankfurt). Organizing Principles is the culmination of her enrollment in O—Overgaden’s talent program INTRO.