Kristján Gudmundsson
Kristján Gudmundsson is a poet of a very pure and concise visual language of his own devising. He joins together Minimalism and Conceptualism in a way that has brought him international acclaim. Kristján Gudmundsson is gifted with a fresh vision, an eye for the most effective approach to each problem, allowing him to open up new artistic possibilities and dimensions within his closed field. While living in the Netherlands in the seventies, Gudmundsson encountered Dutch Conceptualism, Concrete poetry, and the minimal art of Malevich, Fontana, and de Stilj group. At that time, Dutch Conceptualism had a much more lyrical slant than Conceptual Art elsewhere, which tended to rely on mathematical formulae or intellectual formulations. Gudmundsson was inclined to take the latter approach. He would empty his works of formalist references and emotional content, searching for the most direct and absolute solutions he could think of. Gudmundsson created the first of his "drawings", the "supersonic" ones, in 1972 by shooting bullets from e rifle along a sheet of paper. Each bullet, traveling 1/1500 of a second, would lightly graze the paper, leaving a linear trace. Other "drawings" were to follow, either as the end result of a given work process, or in book form. 

Kristján Gudmundsson moved back to Iceland in 1979. It was then that he began expanding the idea of the "drawing", chiefly by concentrating on the tools and materials involved in the drawing process rather than on the end result. Instead of aiming for "final" solutions, as he had in his earlier works, Gudmundsson would work with more open-ended concepts, which allowed for a greater degree of interpretation on the part of the viewer. The idea of the "localized energy of the material" is crucial to the perception of these works. For the artist, the "energy" in question resides in basics such as rolls of paper and blocks of graphite. This is drawing at degree zero. 

These three-dimensional "drawings" are uncomplicated structures. Nothing disturbs the viewer, neither colour nor formal complexity. Rather than using the graphite to draw lines by hand, Gudmundsson turns it into sculptural reliefs. This process, totally devoid of emotional significance, becomes not "ècriture", but a concrete form of action. But as spatial presence, it engages our attention and affects our imagination without resorting to deception. These three-dimensional "drawings" are thus visually very different from Gudmundsson’s other works. They bring out the structure and essence of the space. Gudmundsson thus concretizes "drawing", giving it a presence and making it into an object with a subtle emotional appeal, even though it eschews emotionalism of any kind. In the process, the artist also invokes formalism and aesthetic values that have an attraction of their own.
Kristján Gudmundsson’s oeuvre brings together some of the finest aspects of Iceland’s cultural heritage, in particular its literary and linguistic trademark: a concise, clear, and direct style. Only the essentials have been retained, so as to allow the artist to concentrate on the "object’s innermost being, in order to open it up".

Bera Nordal
The Hour of the North, exhibition catalougue, Nordic Coucil of Ministers, 1995.