Photo courtesy

Óskar Hallgrímsson

The power couples Óskar Hallgrímsson and Mariika Lobyntseva behind the textile art collaboration “Comfortable Universe” join a video call from Kyiv, Ukraine, where you can see a burst of technicolor in the background of the art studio. They just recently reunited with their art. For the first six weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, Ukrainian troops used the building.

Their art consists of brightly colored wall hangings hand-sewn from wool and acrylic, depicting minimalist characters engaged in beautiful and mundane activities that we often take for granted. It all began during the blockade as a response to the boredom and discomfort of a pandemic.

Difficult times, soft solutions

COVID-19 has created the need to escape to a more comfortable place with creativity and imagination alone. She says it was an “unobtrusive way” for Oscar and Mariika. They built what they call the “opposite world” of the world they lived in.

The newly adopted studio name “Comfortable Universe” was the title of the previous exhibition held in December last year. The soft part provided a sensory experience in favor of intimacy, feel and warmth, in stark contrast to the pandemic blockade. “It portrays the comfort we missed during the pandemic,” says Oscar. A timeless, raceless, genderless character depicted through a fluffy bunch of yarns of Mariika and Oscar’s art, the moment when all of humanity fought the same invisible power that stopped it. Anthropomorphize.

Longing for safety

Then there was a war. Mariika and Oscar have noticed that they are facing completely different types of monsters. “It’s not invisible or invisible. It’s very, very realistic,” says Oscar. Mariika adds: “It’s shocking how quickly we can adapt to the new reality.”

“If we’re walking down the street and seem a little suspicious, the soldiers stop and look for you. The moment they realize we’re harmless, they smile to let us go. I’m so happy, “Oscar explains. “I was scared at first, but now I’m very careful, so I’m relieved.”

“Ljó mandiÞægilegt”

Trapped again, they used art to express what they couldn’t say, making the most of their situation. It is this reassurance that the Comfortable Universe focused on for the upcoming show “Ljóman diÞægilegt” at Gallery Port from July 16th to August 4th. They will soon bring their work to Iceland with just enough check bags to carry around. “Ljómandi” means “shining”, but is often colloquially used as a synonym for “great”. It represents the brilliance we can feel inside “warm, cozy and cozy, like the light of a candle.”

Unexpected impact

In these new works, beings are peeking from behind the object and hiding. Mariika sketches the design and then reworkes and fits it by both Óskar and Mariika. “Art evolves as you progress,” explains Mariika. “You often don’t notice until you exhibit your work and people see there all sorts of meanings you didn’t notice.”

The flowers stand out in their latest work, with giant daisies and flower-covered barricades. “I’ve never been crazy about bouquets, but now when I see people selling them, I’m buying them if possible. I’m a little happy,” laughs Mariika. “Now there are more flowers in my work.”

Dressing reality

“Our art this time does not mean” escape “, it simply” dresses “our reality. It’s about rebellion, “Oscar states. “We don’t want to use the obvious image of war, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to admit pain and scars. We know there are many. We’ve seen it. rice field.”

The only exception to their rule is what Oscar and Mariika call “a symbol of rebellion.” Throw a Molotov cocktail, one of their little beings. It’s not a fluffy wall hanging shape, but one of the most popular tattoo designs in one of the flash tattoo events that Mariika participates in. The event takes place in an old warehouse that created Molotov cocktails, camouflage nets, and sometimes acted as a central hub for hosting rave. All proceeds from tattoos go to support the Ukrainian army. “Everyone contributes to something. We do what we can with our skills,” says Mariika.

Rebellion is another popular theme of “LjómandiÞægilegt”. It can come in many forms. A person who buys a bouquet of flowers, a tree that blooms in the spring in a city that has not yet been released, or a sniper who creates art under the roof. It’s a soldier who picks up gardening tools during breaks to ensure that the roots of their city’s beloved tree get enough air. His AK47 lay on his back and shook from side to side each time he moved the trowel.

Russian authorities try to convince you that Ukraine will not exist in a few years. Oscar and Mariika assured us that it was just noise, and every little act of rebellion helped drown it out and becomes another voice to join the louder chanting than ever before: “I We don’t go anywhere. “

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