Jakob Veigar Sigurdsson is an Icelandic abstract painter. The art of Jacob is like a dream of chaotic harmony, reflected in a growing attraction to symbols. A mood is alienating when it finds shadows without bodies, where you see nothing. He presents a sublime mind-trip where colors and lines stop for a moment and then pulse in every direction. There is no peace angrier than emotion, and the cure of his painted enchantment seems to run with instinct.
Are circumstances an attractive compromise?
Yes they are, and I think they are always, even when I don’t understand them and even hate them. I think that in the end everything has some kind of crazy or bizarre meaning that make sense when you are ready to understand it. The worst circumstances I have been in have always turned out to be the best lessons in my life and necessary step to take me into the Now that is the only thing that matters.
Do your paintings scream or listen in silence?
My earlier work are pure scream in silence, scream for salvation, screaming for a guide out of my misery. But you always find what you are looking for and I think my newest paintings have the ability to give you that. If your mind needs to shout it out loud they will listen to you or if you need a kick in your teeth you will find it.
When and how did you start to paint?
I always had a pencil in my hand, but I started to paint in 2011. I am a civil engineer and I was working in a construction project in Gryllefjord on the Island Senja in the north of Norway. I was a bankrupt, divorced and overweight alcoholic. I had just quit drinking, and in the darkness in the north I just realized the energy I used to put into drinking had no place to go and was making me insane. I started to make music and paint just to keep my sanity. And little by little it took over everything and I realized I had just two options, get drunk again and just keep on doing what I had be doing as a civil engineer, miserable as hell, or take the step into the unknown, and let the art lead the way. There has not been one single day that I am not full of gratitude for finding the courage to change my life that way. This place Gryllefjord stole some part of my heart. The total darkness in the winter time and the isolation changed me a lot and I hope I will get the opportunity sometime to go back there and paint.
Are the illustrations that you represent symbols in contrast or an extreme relationship of senses?
In my latest work I am defiantly not trying to put some symbols or meaning into the painting I try to put some energy that maybe relates to the viewer’s mind. If I manage to pull the viewer into the painting, he can find his own world based on his own experience and perspective of life and then he can build up his understanding and form some kind of personal relationship with the painting. If I can manage that, I defiantly made my point and the painting got its own life, free from my opinion and my perspective on things. In my older work I was more dealing with my past I just tried to put all my angst and depression into a figure or portrait giving the viewer no possibility to think.
What is emotion and beauty to you?
I think emotions can be the contrast of life. If I let them be just that, life gets very beautiful. Like if we just accept our different perspective on things and don’t get stuck in the argument, life gets very interesting and beautiful, full of contrast like a good painting. Emotions can also be very dangerous thing if you let them take over. It is easy to let them take over everything and let them control you. Believe me, before I quit drinking I was a slave to my emotions and they ruled my life. I did bad things and my self-esteem went down below zero, but I can laugh about it now, and actually it is good to look back and see it was necessary for me to go through that to be what I am today. So I guess, in the end everything is good. Beauty is such a difficult matter to explain for me, it is different how I experience beauty and it has very strong relationship to emotions to day I find beauty in black metal tomorrow in birdwatching. This is too complicated.
How do you choose colors?
I don’t know I just put a lot of color on my palette and start painting and when the painting finds its way, it chooses its color by its self I think, or I choose it somehow. I´m not sure really (now I am laughing) I never really think about it so much they just happen at the moment. But a deep understanding of color is very important for a painter and I understanding little more about them in every painting. This relationship between color and mind is so fucking amazing and for me maybe the most interesting thing in the art of painting. I think you can spend your whole life investigating colors and the contrast between the mind and colors.
What have been your satisfactions, achievements and dreams?
I believe my greatest achievement is just staying alive and survive. There have been times in my life I have been ready to give up, but fortunately I found courage to hold on and I am still going strong. Every step I´ve taken in this art journey has been a great personal success. Getting into the Icelandic Academy of the Arts and Academy of Fine Arts Vienna is something already far bigger than I ever imagined I would achieve as an artist. My teenage dream was always to be a guitar hero, but unfortunately I sucked as a guitar player. But after I quit drinking I decided to record my own song Darkness, just to free me from that dream, and that was maybe one of the most difficult things I have done.
I played everything by myself except the live drums that Gummi from Sólstafir played for me, and my good friend Haffi did the audio engineering stuff. I am blessed with amazing good friends and family that have supported me along the way. Without them I am nothing. I also joined the Indy band Morgan Kane as a bass player and we previously made our first EP so in a way my rock star dreams already came true (laughing). As a painter, having my crazy portrait on the big screen in Times Square NY was amazing; studying in Cyprus College of Art, all of this has been a great personal success. I have met amazing artists and made good friends. Every step I take now is adventure and my dream is that I can make a living out of art and see my work hanging in a cool places and say to myself “hell yeah, you did that”.
What are you looking for?
I want to see how far I can go as an artist. Understanding of life and my own masterpiece.
What’s your favorite place?
Skaftafell National Park is my most favorite place in the world. The extreme contrast between black sands, glaciers and the beautiful mountains is something that will amaze me forever. A piece of my soul will always be there. Other places I feel connected to are Larnaka in Cyprus. I had a great time there and I will go there and paint at some point in my life. Gryllefjord in Norway it is there where it all started so I have to mention it and currently I am living in Vienna and I love it.
Is art your salvation?
Art is what it you want it to be. For me it was a salvation in the beginning but now it is more of way of life. Way to express and communicate with life.
Is abstract is a source of refuge or a determined escape?
Abstract is so fucking big I can’t explain it. It is everything and it is nothing. It is creation or a god and it is meaningless bullshit. Like music, it can be what you want it to be in one way and you can be what it wants you to be in another way. It is an escape from reality and a reflection from it in same moment.
How find inspiration?
Inspiration is overestimated. For me inspiration is something you look for if you need to design or illustrate something. But hard work is underestimated, just start working and something happens. I just put color on a palette and start putting paint on a canvas. At some point the work take you where it wants to go. It is not a supernatural thing it just the blend of the energy that your thoughts and emotions create and that mix makes sometimes interesting things. It’s just a journey without promises that’s take you somewhere. Good or bad doesn’t matter as long it takes you somewhere.
In your opinion, when do you think that an artist is happy? Are you happy?
I think an artist is happy when he accepts the struggle and when the idea or work becomes something physical. The desire to go further will always keep me going. All the personal barriers I break make me happy. When I expand my comfort zone I get terribly scared and happy. So I guess I am happy in this constant battle with myself and the canvas.
Is life is a collection of waste or an exuberance of taste?
I believe for most people life is a collection of waste and it is OK if they are satisfied with that. Taste is something you learn and everything is trying to tell you not to be satisfied with any taste you find. If you find something good you cannot have enough if it and if you find something bad you have too much of it. So for me life is just a moment, a mad joke that we are most of the time too scared to laugh about.
When you paint, do you free yourself from something you’d like to donate to others or do you remain a prisoner of your expression?
When I paint I go into my own little timeless space of existence and for me this space gives me a reason to breathe. If I could give someone this space I would give it. But I paint for myself, the act of painting is for me alone. Maybe to free myself from life, I’m not sure, at least I express the moment I paint in the painting, and it is no prison much more like complete freedom. But when I finish the painting, it is no longer mine it is there, and everyone can have their opinion or feelings about it and I have nothing to say about it anymore.