Art in the Library: Spring & Fall 2022

Jan Groth, Kristján Gudmundsson, Gabriel Orozco, Gunnel Wåhlstrand
From May 6, 2022

The display in the reference library brings together works of artists exploring and broadening the concept of drawing. Their various entry points, impulses, and individual approaches take the form of works on paper, one wall object, and a series of photographs.

In addition to works by Gabriel Orozco, Jan Groth, and Kristján Gudmundsson, a selection of pieces by Gunnel Wåhlstrand are presented in connection with Lars Norén’s Fine Art Library, now forming part of Magasin III’s own library.

Jan Groth has through his artistic practice exclusively and continuously explored the relationship between the line and the picture plane. First and foremost in drawings executed with crayon on paper, but also in monumental tapestries made in collaboration with his previous partner, Benedikte Groth. Since the late 1980s, he has also brought the line into three-dimensional space with bronze sculptures spanning the intimate scale of the drawings, to the monumentality of public works.

Groth would almost exclusively start his drawings at the center of a sheet of paper. With the weight of his body on the crayon, he created swift, reduced articulations. Rather than the motifs, it is the very act of drawing that is captured on paper. Groth himself described his art as ”a balance between almost something and almost nothing”.

An autodidact, Kristján Gudmundsson began exhibiting at local galleries in Iceland in the late 1960s but grew soon visible in an international context. Gudmundsson works primarily with sculpture and conceptual art, often with minimalistic forms of expression. His works are characterized by a reduced color scale and a stripped-down artistic idiom.

In the 1980s, Gudmundsson started to explore the concept of drawing by using its basic materials—paper, graphite, and ink—to create installations, sculptures, and wall objects. The work Drawing VIII (1989), which is displayed here in the library, is part of a series in which Gudmundsson has combined graphite in the form of rods, discs, or blocks with rolls of paper ordered straight from the factory. The method of using drawing’s raw, untouched materials provided Gudmundsson with practically boundless possibilities of configuration and size. The results are works of restraint and formal precision that open up for the incalculable potential of drawing and, by extension, fiction.

Gabriel Orozco works in media including drawing, installation, photography, sculpture, and video. His aesthetic vocabulary is indebted to Conceptualism, the artistic traditions of his native Mexico, and Marcel Duchamp’s readymades. The fragile relationship of everyday objects to one another and to human beings is Orozco’s principal subject. In the artwork Black Kites from 1997, Orozco covered a human skull with a graphite checkerboard that bends and swells over its bony contours. While the skull is part of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, nine Fuji crystal chromogenic archive prints showing different angles of the skull are part of the Magasin III Collection, under the name Black Kites Perspective (1997-2008). Orozco’s images of a painted skull are postmortem portraits of sorts but lack any specific features, the individuality of the face being absent. Skulls have appeared in portraits throughout art history, but almost exclusively as a memento mori. Orozco spent weeks painting the checkered pattern on the cranium. He describes it as a way of spending time contemplating. The skull remains a strong symbol and Orozco’s work can be read as part of a history of portraits where the severity suggested by the skull’s shape is contrasted with the inscription Ars longa, vita brevis—art is long, life is short.


Jan Groth’s five works, all Untitled (2011–2012) were on view until October 2022.