Erla Haraldsdottir

Artist Biography

Erla S. Haraldsdóttir works with painting, drawing, printmaking and photomontage as a means to cite cultural symbols and insert them in evocative images, suggestive of narrative form. An academically trained painter, who has versatile experience in performative genres and video art, she currently focuses on figurative painting, where the physicality of paint and colour creates and troubles the illusion of space, light and shadow. Her works are drawn from a wide range of art historical materials and motifs, and she recombines these with painterly brilliance and humor. The works often remix or mashup elements of personal iconography and cultural heritage to explore how affect, kinship, memories, and perception interact. Methodology is central and Haraldsdóttir’s process-driven work is often based on a combination of rules and restrictions, places or stories, and tasks assigned to her by other people.

She often extends these methods into her teaching and complex collaborations. These aspects of her work are described in publications like Difficulty of Freedom/Freedom of Difficulty (Reykjavík: Umeå Academy of Fine Arts and Crymogea, 2014) based on workshops at the Living Art Museum (2013) and Verkligheten art space in Umeå (2014), Make a Painting of Trees Growing in a Forest (Reykjavík: Crymogea, 2015), as well as her latest books, My Mother’s Dream, (Stockholm, Arvinius Orfeus Publishing, 2022), Övergångar, (Stockholm, Arvinius Orfeus Publishing, 2021) and Patterns of the Family,  ('uns publishing, Berlin / Iceland, 2019).

Haraldsdóttir has among other places exhibited at Norrtälje Konsthall, (Sweden), Reykjavík Art museum, (Iceland) Lund Cathedral, The Crypt, (Sweden), Hallgrímskirkja, (Reykjavik, Iceland),  Kalmar Konstmuseum (Sweden), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Akureyri Art Museum (Iceland), Kunstverein Langenhagen (Germany), Bielefelder Kunstverein (Germany), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Berlinische Galerie (Berlin) and the Momentum Biennial of Contemporary Art (Moss, Norway). Her work is represented in public collections in Iceland (National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavík Art Museum, Akureyri Art Museum, ASÍ Art Museum) and in Sweden (National Public Art Council, Moderna Museet). She has completed numerous residencies including Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Cité des Arts (Paris), The Bag Factory (Johannesburg, South Africa), and Ateliers ’89 (Oranjestad, Aruba). Recent exhibitions include My Mother’s Dream (Norrtälje Konsthall, Norrtälje, Sweden) Patterns of the Family (Gallery Manière Noire, Berlin and Reykjanes Art Museum, Iceland), Genesis (Lund Cathedral, the Crypt, Lund, Sweden, Galleri Konstepidemin Göteborg, and Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik), Make a Painting of Trees Growing in a Forest (Kalmar Konstmuseum, Sweden), 2016; Just Painted (Reykjavík Art Museum), Project Metropolis (Silesian Museum, Katowice, Poland), 2015; Visual Wandering (ASÍ Art Museum, Reykjavík), 2014;  (In)dependent People, Reykjavík Arts Festival, 2012; and Moment-Ynglingagatan 1 (Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden), 2011.

Haraldsdóttir studied at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and the San Francisco Arts Institute and has a degree from the Valand Academy of Fine Art in Gothenburg, 1998. Born in Reykjavík, she currently lives and works in Berlin and Johannesburg.