Tolli – The Great Icelandic Artist


Iceland is one of the most beautiful and incredible countries in the world. The eye-captivating scenery makes it a perfect place to absorb the best of nature. The northern country embraces incredible mountain heights, dazzling blue glacier lagoons, lustrous green trails, rhythmic waterfalls, cozy geothermal spas, and mystical caves. Everything about Iceland is grand and beautiful that inspires individuals from around the globe. Not just adventure enthusiasts, travel fanatic or hiking aficionados love this gigantic country, but also photographers, painters, and sculptures.

The clear blue sky, the glittery northern lights, and the white blanket of snow fascinate artists to create some of the masterpieces the world has seen. The peace and natural beauty offer boost ideas and creative flow to curate art that embraces the magical beauty of Iceland. Icelandic artists celebrate the rich and diverse culture of the country through their art and piece of work. Icelandic art comprises of its people, culture, rich tradition, natural beauty, and simplicity. The country is filled with some great art pieces created by both local and international artists.

Tolli Icelandic artist

The History of Art in Iceland

It was in the nineteenth century when Icelandic beauty started getting translated into art. Some great artists and painters use to represent and celebrate the northern European traditions through their work. Even the contemporary artwork is highly inspired by the paintings of the yesteryears created by artists including Ásgrímur Jónsson, Kristín Jónsdóttir, Jóhannes S. Kjarval, and Jón Stefánsson. All these artists together enhanced the beauty, tradition, and positive vibes of their home country through their exceptional handwork. Many of Icelandic artists traveled to various foreign lands to train in their field of work. They bring back international trends and themes. Famous artists, including Jón Engilberts and Nína Tryggvadóttir, blend these global influences with the vast natural beauty of Iceland to create some of the best masterpieces. You can take a tour around various art studios, galleries and museums across the country to explore the excellent work produced by Icelandic artists or painters.

Art in the Contemporary Times

With time the definition of art has changed in Iceland. It is no longer restricted to painters imitating the breath-taking waterfalls in their canvases. It has evolved and translated to various other genres of artistry, including sculptures, photography, and abstract designing. The Association of Icelandic Artists encourages Icelandic and foreign artists to participate in the Venice Biennale, in existence since 1960. This platform provides an opportunity for all the experienced and young artists to showcase the beauty and liveliness of Iceland through art.

You can also get your hands on some of the brilliant masterpieces available at display in a variety of museums and art galleries in Iceland. The National Gallery of Iceland and Reykjavik Art Museum features some of the best artwork from the nineteenth and twentieth century. You can also visit some private studios established in different parts of the country to know about different paintings or artwork by Icelandic artists. Some museums and art galleries are dedicated to showcasing the work of a single artist like Hafnarhus museum, which has a wide range of masterpieces crafted by famous artist Erro. 

Tolli Icelandic artist

The Contribution of Tolli In Icelandic Art

When talking about the art in Iceland, you can’t get away without acknowledging the stunning work of the famous Icelandic artist– Tolli. Þorlákur Kristinsson or Tolli is known for creating mystical and outstanding paintings. His work reflects the core of Iceland, the natural beauty which inspires people from every nook and corner to visit the country. Tolli grew up in the capital city Reykjavik, which features mountains, clear blue sky, dazzling city lights, and hospitable natives. At an early age, he started working for a sailor and in freezing plants, which kept him close to nature. His paintings reflect the grandeur of the beautiful European country.

Tolli’s work is an inspiration for all international and local artists that want to capture the mystical and magical beauty of Iceland. Every region of this country offers different attractions – some are visible to everyone, and some need depth in the eyes to be unleashed. The perfection in the work of Tolli and an eye for detailing makes him the best artist Iceland has ever produced. His great work travels through generation after generation as he beautifully translates the incredible vibes of Iceland in his paintings.

Tolli is the brother of famous Icelandic musician Bubbi Morthens or Ásbjörn Kristinsson Morthens, and both of their respective works showcase the incredible wonders that Iceland has for the rest of the world. Major of Tolli’s work is owned by the Reykjavik Art Museum, National Gallery of Iceland, and University of Iceland Art Museum. There are many art institutions worldwide, including in the United States and Europe, that have out Tolli’s work on display.

Tolli Is Known For…

Worldwide, Tolli’s art is appreciated as a sacred document representing the ever-wonderful and eye-captivating scenes of Iceland. Since the nineties, he is well-known for his abstract and landscape paintings. From terrific volcano eruptions to lustrous green tails to the beautiful northern lights, Tolli has a remarkable record of representing the marvelous landscape beauty of Iceland. He finds art and perfection in everything, which makes him a fine and professional artist. Other than landscape paintings, Tolli is widely famous for his abstract paintings. These paintings or artwork become significant in the mid-twentieth century in Iceland. The use of colors and free-flowing patterns help Tolli creates an incredible piece of art.

The painting designs fit perfectly well in the contemporary world to display the rich culture, diversity, and scenic beauty of this northern country. The rest of the world knows Iceland through these paintings, that is one reason why Tolli offers a personal touch to all his paintings. The incredible natives, pleasant environment, and picturesque natural surroundings work as a driving force for artists to craft some eye-pleasing beauties. He had his first art exhibition in Reykjavik and Akureyri in 1982, and from this period till 1992, he became part of over 22 solo exhibitions in Iceland and various other parts of the world.

Tolli Icelandic artist

The Evolving Art - Tolli’s Famous Paintings

Tolli started painting at a young age. He was caught under the influence of drugs and smoking and went to a rehabilitation center; the journey he had changed the way he looked at art. From dark and gloomy expressions, he shifted to paint the joyous and colorful landscape. Every painting by Tolli tells a story that people with an eye of detailing can relate to. There was a phase where Tolli was inclined towards painting a series called Warriors of the Spirit that features chromatic, symbolic, and overtone artwork. You can also explore his wide number of paintings with vacant farms with just alluring greenery protected by a clear blue sky. Recently, his paintings have driven towards more calming, peaceful, and balanced subjects.

Most of his paintings feature tall mountains covered with a white blanket of snow. There are several paintings with different colors and featuring an Icelandic village located on the bank of a river. Tolli always tries to remain close to his home and people by painting subjects that everyone can relate with. His art pieces show dedication and love for nature and its wonders, making him a preserver of the Icelandic beauty. In some of his paintings, he uses contrasting colors to paint mountains and trees, which offers a dramatic appearance. His artwork broadly shows the landscape of Iceland presented using vigorous brushstrokes and bold colors. The contrasting designs and amalgamation of colors represent the life and peaceful ambiance of Iceland. Each painting tells a story and opens room for discussion and interpretation. The representation of Iceland’s dramatic landscape through the work of Tolli influence international artists to explore this wonderland.

Art in Iceland

The magical surrounding and lively people in Iceland offer endless inspiration to artists like Tolli. He believes that the close-knit community and diverse culture of the country feed artists to imagine and create some beautiful artwork. Iceland embraces a poetic ambiance that is worth translating and preserving for future generations. You can find the art in every realm of the country, on roads, in studios, and different places. Tolli takes inspiration from various things that are represented in the beautiful and warm ambiance of Iceland. He finds art everywhere.

Tolli Icelandic artist

In Everyday Life

Being one of the most beautiful countries around the globe, Iceland holds excellent aesthetic appeal, not just for the tourists but for different artists as well. A lot of Tolli’s artwork or paintings are inspired by the daily life of/in Iceland. From tall mountains to vivacious volcanoes, Tolli’s painting is all about what he sees every day that defines the timeless beauty of Iceland. Iceland has its art scenes; you can visit any village or town to witness raw and eye-pleasing beauty. Like Tolli, you can also explore the vast and eye-captivating array of breath-taking picturesque scenes. The farms in the Westfjords or the fishing village in Eastfjords boost impeccable ideas for a painting or graffiti. The northern state, Akureyri, is famous for different shows that take place at Hof, which is known as the hotspot for art and entertainment in the city. The daily lifestyle and activities in Iceland inspire artists like Tolli to translate the beauty of this country on canvas.

In Reykjavik

As Tolli was born and raised in the capital city Reykjavik, his artwork is mostly inspired by this place. Reykjavik is famous for its stunning persona and charming ambiance. The beauty and rich cultural influence artists to embody the city in their work. You will see various museums, galleries, exhibitions, and studios around the city that celebrates the painting and artwork of different artists. From Hallgrimskirkja church to Einar Jonsson’s sculpture garden, Reykjavik has great inspirations that encourage Tolli and other artists to create some of the best and remarkable masterpieces.

In North, South, East, and West

Iceland is a country that has innumerable tourist attractions that are stretched from one corner to another. Each part of the country offers some incredible sight to visitors that are eye-captivating and amazingly stunning. Most of Tolli’s artwork showcase different parts of Iceland. From the northern mountains to liberating rivers in the south, each masterpiece by Tolli reflects the grandeur and magical persona of the country. The paintings are so realistic that you can feel the warmth and actuality of the captured scenes. His bold color strokes and impeccable creativity presents a beautiful and undefined side of this beautiful country. Tolli’s work largely features the art lover’s wonderland in East of Iceland, Seydisfjordur, and the calmness of the remote villages and towns in the west.

In Festivals and Exhibitions

There are many art festivals, exhibitions, and markets that are organized in Iceland every year. Tolli’s work is one of the major attractions in most of these festivals, gallery exhibitions, and market presentations. Other than showcasing the world his masterpiece, he gets to explore the work done by other artists as well. There are festivals like Design March and Reykjavik Arts Festival that inspire him to go deeper into his thoughts and transfer the magical aura of the European country into the canvas.

Tolli is known as the biggest and most famous Icelandic artist who tries to do justice to the beautiful scenic beauty of his home country in his stunning paintings. The way he showcases the country in his painting and artwork is unique and adds to the value of Iceland. Like any other artist, Tolli, too, finds his peace and comfort in the wilderness of the country, which offers warmth and peace of mind to translate ideas into a piece of paper. The amalgamation of colors tell a story, the rhythmic and magical affair in his paintings enhance the aesthetic appeal of different exhibitions, art galleries, and studios. The simplicity in his artwork is appreciated around the globe. Tolli drives emotions and connections through his work by replicating the beauty, rich culture, diversity, and positive energy of Iceland.

Tolli Icelandic artist
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