Nothing about Erró’s art is understated. A firm believer that more is better, this Icelandic artist creates jam-packed, dynamic, and often raucous paintings. Working in series and deploying a kaleidoscope of cartoon characters, art icons, and public figures, he comments on pressing political issues, references art history, and delights in wreaking visual havoc.
Erró settled in Paris in 1958 after studying in Reykjavik, Oslo, and Florence. His early tempera-and-ink paintings depicting ghoulish figures firmly situate him in the postwar European figurative art scene. In 1963, his encounter with American Pop art on his first trip to New York proved decisive, and he began employing mass-culture imagery to explore social and cultural contradictions inherent in a world of never-ending consumption. From the very beginning, Erró also made collages—a technique that has been essential to his art—and has unceasingly investigated and amassed an ever-expanding archive of images culled from around the world. Comprising newspaper and magazine clippings, posters, leaflets, postcards, advertisements, and, importantly, comics, this wealth of materials provides the sources for the collages, which in turn he projects onto canvases and paints.
Collage enables Erró to fashion startling combinations which can appear humorous or ironic but, on closer observation, can also be deeply unsettling. Indeed, in many of Erró’s paintings, shiny, smooth surfaces belie pointed political critiques and complex psychological investigations. Erró’s first American retrospective, Worldscapes surveys more than half a century of this globally minded and prolific artist’s career.