The exhibition by Erró (Gudmundur Gudmundsson, born 1932) at the Helsinki City Art Museum’s Tennis Palace galleries comprised some 70 large paintings and collages from the 1960s to the present. Born in Iceland, Erró has worked and lived in Paris since 1958. Stylistically, his works display the strong influence of comics. They present an ironic view of the key events and personalities of last century’s international politics and art scene. The exhibition also includes Erró’s experimental films from the 1960s.
Erró’s paintings are Pop Art classics. Critical and full of movement and action, they always form series which create absurd worlds where prominent politicians from Mao to Qaddafi, celebrated artists and famous fairy-tale, comic-book and science fiction heroes meet. The works retell the events that shaped the 20th century – Cold War conflicts from the Vietnam War to the Bay of Pigs, Middle East turmoil and the events that took place in the former Yugoslavia. His expressive, cartoon-like caricatures unravel the intricate web of international relations that is so dominant in world politics. His works also criticize the most important personalities of the art world and their works, and mass consumption, the arms race, mass movements and technological advancement.
Erró’s large paintings are based on collages which the artist creates from items in his private picture archive. The archive comprises postcards, advertisements, comics, political posters and writings, art books and food wrappers collected over the years on travels around the world. To make his collages he cuts pictures away from their original context and combines them freely with other pictures and then copies the collages by painting them. Erró describes his method: “There is a similarity between my works and radio. By turning a knob you can go from Amsterdam to Mexico City, Tokyo… Points of view and the information offered vary enormously. A collage works on the same principle although it is not as transient. By dealing with everyday events I try to interpret the present, the transitory states of society before they disappear in collective oblivion”.
The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris. It has received support from the Republic of Iceland, Reykjavik City Council and Kaupting Investment Bank.