Icelandic conceptual art is a concept in its own right. Within a few decades Icelandic artists – of whom there are far too many good ones in relation to the population of Iceland – have developed it into a genre in its own right. In addition to questions undermining conventional thinking and seeing and the reformulation and rearrangement of the categories of seeing and experiencing which are all characteristic of conceptual art, Icelandic conceptual art is also marked by an extremely refined and usually meagre form: severity and lyricism.
Hreinn Fridfinnsson is one of the leading classics of Icelandic conceptual art. Another Icelandic artist, Sigurdur Gudmundsson, has, with due cause, remarked: "Hreinn Fridfinnsson’s art is pure poetry." It is both pure – lucidly thought out, scant and even mundane in its themes – as well as lyrical. It is able to evoke strong feelings of wonder, recognition and communality.
In terms of form, Hreinn Fridfinnsson’s work can be almost anything: a photograph of a fairy cathedral in Iceland, the mood of an evening or a quasi-scientific experiment with beauty as its objective. A pencil tracing through paper of the forms of the rock of Mont Sainte-Victoire, a three-dimensional sculptural illusion based on reflection, or an installation of pieces of glass, giving corporeal form to snow, rain or the feeling of tears. Fridfinnsson investigates ways of seeing, feeling and understanding. He knows what kinds of experience, knowledge and memories are shared by people and how feeling can be crystallized in the experience of viewing. Even his smallest works are in some way more significant than their scale – each one of them contains a big idea or emotion, or both.