Hardy Langer

June 21, 2024.

Posted by Kris Madejski.

Hardy Langer is a German painter and drawer. Landscape plays an important role in his work. In many cases it serves as a carrier or supposed home for people and animals, which often mark the beginning of a story. These stories, in turn, usually develop from a deliberate misplacement of the characters who somehow do not want to fit into these landscapes.
My residency at Fish Factory Stödvarfjördur was based on a scholarship that I was awarded as a member of Interface Inagh, an artists’ organisation and art centre in the West of Ireland, and was funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. As with other scholarships, I had chosen a location-specific topic that I then wanted to work on in Iceland. During my preparations, I became interested in fish and fishing, which is directly related to the fishing situation and the former fish factory in Stödasfjördur. However, things turned out completely different: I had ambitiously taken 40 more or less small, stretched canvases with me to Iceland, along with lots of oil and acrylic paints. That wasn‘t a problem because I came with my own car (which I can only recommend to everyone). However, the canvases were not filled with fish and everything associated with them, but almost exclusively with landscape. The impressions of rock, grass, water, wind, clouds, snow were too overwhelming and I was too undisciplined to stick to my original plan. After all, the (not entirely serious) requirement from Vinny, the boss of the Fish Factory, that we were allowed to paint everything except mountains („everyone who comes here immediately paints mountains, it‘s as if everyone takes part in a band casting plays automatically Stairway to Heaven – that‘s a no-go!“) I held out for a whole 10 days, before this resolution was ultimately gone.
However, the crumbling of my good intentions began far out at sea, hours before the ferry docked in Seydisfjördür. The coastline of Iceland emerged from a grey sea and against a white sky. A noticeable cold penetrated into the pleasantly heated lounge through the huge panoramic windows on deck 10 and became more noticeable with every nautical mile closer. Iceland, which I had never visited before, presented itself as a forbidding thing of ice and snow and grey rock.
Near to an apocalyptic scenery with sky and snow showing the whitest white I had ever seen in a landscape, with the most fascinating aspect that you couldn‘t tell where the snowfields end and the sky begins.
It somehow was as if this land couldn‘t decide whether it was born of the sea or fell from the sky.

So I painted the white and small pictures with everything that came before my eyes: the conifer-speckled snowfields that started a few metres behind the house, the bus shelter in the morning fog, the abandoned pier, the ice quarries in the Jökulsarlon lagoon, the village street in the night (or what was meant by „night“ there), of course, after 10 days, mountains with white skies and also, as has not been the case for 30 years, a few still-lifes with stones and stuff from the sea.

Being used to working alone in a studio, I found the company of other artists in the large and always very pleasantly warm shared studio of the Fish Factory in no way disturbing, but on the contrary, very inspiring and my colleagues can forgive me for, that in terms of technology, viewing and approach, choice of motif and implementation, I stole one thing or another.
With the exception of a few excursion days, I worked every day and also at night and at least 10-12 hours, three times exchanged huge fish from one of the incoming fishing boats for a few cans of beer, visited once the local CaféBarRestaurant (which, like many gastronomic establishments I have seen, comes very close to the external appearance of a car repair shop or the storage house of a plumber) but several times Petra‘s unique stone collection (free entry to artists from the Fish Factory!) presented Kris, our extremely friendly supervisor, the Swabian Spaetzle Machine and bought me a 10-unit-ticket for the local outdoor pool, which I almost completely used up. In this same outdoor pool, in the hot tub, I met the captain of one of the fishing boats and his crew the evening before my departure and left the 42 degree warm basin with the promise of being taken on a fishing trip next year. So, a path has already been paved for the resumption of my original topic and the chances of its realization are good, especially since the very active PR department of the Denmark-Iceland ferry is already bombarding me with very attractive special crossing offers for 2025.
Hardy Langer, June 2024
Incidentally, only one single canvas was returned unpainted.