Review by Halldór Björn Runólfsson published in April 2000 in Morgunbladid, the largest newspaper in Iceland.
White upon white
Margrét Sveinsdóttir builds her monotone paintings on patterns of orderliness so the outcome becomes optical.
The squares that make the orderly pattern are embossed and indented so that in between them the form of a four-leave flower appears. When you gaze over the exhibition, the patterns of order confuse the eye and you are not sure what is in the back- or foreground of the paintings. It takes the eyes a little while to get adjusted to what they perceive.
Margrét builds on a long tradition of white monotone artworks. In 1918 the Russian painter Kasimir Malevich arrived at the final destination of the painting when he painted white upon white. These works were the conclusion of a concept the artist chose to call “suprematism” and it showed that monotone artwork was far from being monotonic.
However, few followed Mr. Malevich's example, at least to begin with.
The untiring constructivist Alexander Rodchenko experimented with monotonic paintings but they were far from being white.
It wasn’t until in the 1960s with the work of the Italian Piero Manzoni and the Americans Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Ryman that the idea of white artworks manifested again in the minds of artists. White was the color of colors and it was like a rejoinder in a direct continuation of the colorfulness that art enthusiasts had gotten used to since the Second World War. The Italian painter Lucio Fontana did not only reduce his color scheme to just one color, he also slid open the canvas as if he wanted to reach behind the artwork. The Italians gained yet another artist that thought highly of the white color. The American artist Cy Twombly settled in Italy and took active part in the development of the art scene there in the 1990s.
In America, Japser Johns painted alphabet artworks with white color on white canvas.
Now, forty years later, they still prove to be irresistible. Margrét, with the tradition on her back, has found a fascinating way to expand the equation of the colorless artwork. Even if her artworks are large, some even gigantic, then they still carry the magic that only plainness can produce.
When all the colors have been tried with different results, the sun of the white color will rise. The play with nuance in Margrét’s work demonstrates that one can flourish despite the lack of colors.