Voyage to Iceland_National_Gallery


27.4. - 16.9. 2018

Curators: Otto M. Urban, Petr Nedoma
National Gallery, Sternberg Palace Prague

This series of paintings by Hynek Martinec illustrates the conceptually formulated puzzle based on a fictional story of an attempt in the first half of the 18th century, to build a Baroque cathedral in Iceland and decorate it with paintings. K. I. Dientzenhofer had not built the church there in the end, but the alleged series of pictures designed for Iceland is exhibited here. About thirty paintings and drawings are in fact related to many works of the collection of Baroque art of the National Gallery in Prague. In many respects, this artist‘ s re-interpretations and paraphrases result in a new reading of the original models, at the same time presenting a number of questions related to the positions of present-day painting and the role of the context.

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery in Prague in cooperation with Galerie Rudolfinum.

Voyage To Iceland

In 1729, Iceland was a country wracked by violence and poverty. That year, the scholar and manuscript collector Árni Magnússon (1663–1730) invited the renowned architect Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer (1689–1751) to build a cathedral on the icy island. After completing his work on the monastery in Broumov – but regrettably also after the death of Árni Magnússon – Dientzenhofer undertook the adventurous journey to Iceland in 1733 to find a suitable place for the building. The locals warmly welcomed him. He travelled the length and breadth of the country, but did not find a suitable site, and so he returned to Europe to continue his other building projects. Fortunately for us, the designs for the planned cathedral have survived, as have several Baroque paintings intended as part of the building’s interior decoration. It is truly exciting that the National Gallery in Prague is now presenting a part of this ambitious project that, due to these unfavourable circumstances, was unfortunately never realized, causing Iceland to forever miss out on the Baroque.

Hynek Martinec