LONELY HEARTS letter correspondence

A letter correspondence between Hansina Iversen & Jóhan Martin Christiansen from the Lonely Hearts catalogue, March 2018. Layout by Svanna Højgaard Joensen.

The letters can be read in random order.

Dear Hansina!

I saw a tree fall in the garden today. The wind took it.

It was brutal to watch the process from the other side of the window.


Processes in the studio are perhaps not so different from those in nature.

Works are created from each other and kill each other.

Sometimes it feels like the works decide among themselves who must yield, as if there were a natural law uknown to me.


Natural laws show no mercy.


I found it strangely moving.







Dear Jóhan Martin


I was writing something about how my paintings could be classed as abstract expressionism. I would group my paintings under the concept abstract expressionism, but the thing about concepts is that they often belong to a certain time, place and trend in art history. ‘Non-figurative’ is a newer concept used to label paintings. But I’m not quite convinced that it is the right concept to tie to my paintings, because they are full of shapes, which could be considered figures rather than non-figures. Then again, that depends on the definition of ‘figure’.


Best wishes,





Hello Hansina,


entering the studio is dangerous every time. It is attempting something, which can kick anything off.


Lately I have been thinking about lemons (!) The yellow is like a hook to hang something on. The yellow is magnetic; simultaneously drawing in and driving away. It is a point, even when it’s a small one, seething with tension.


When I enter the studio, I look for hooks to stretch rubber bands out between. I use the hooks to hang colours, shapes, images, language, feelings, thoughts, works.


Sometimes I wonder if thoughts are spies in my work. Or is it the other way around?

Work as spies in thoughts.


These spies are actors in an unholy war, and metamorphose when dusk falls.







Lemons! I’m especially fond of the colour lemon yellow.

Lemon yellow, cadmium yelllow, yellow overall is a difficult colour to work with. But it is also such an energising colour. There is so much light in it.

I had an episode with lemons in Reykjavík.

We were painting still lifes in my first year at the Art Academy.

There was a lemon in the still life and it was painted so yellow by me. Almost too yellow. The teacher was frustrated by my exsessively yellow lemon, and my exsessively bright colours in general. She took the brush from my hand, churned all the colours on my palette into a grey blob and blotted it across the painting. “Grey is a colour too!” she said.

XXX Hansina






Hi H!

I remember an academy professor looking at one of my works in my last year at the academy and calling it ‘sweet nothing’. It was a plaster relief, which I had cast in my first year there, and I had carried with me for all those years without thinking about it, like a sort of favourite work, a darling I didn’t want to get rid off. I don’t know if I fully agree that my plaster reliefs are nothing, because they are quite a lot, but always like shadows, residue of a material presence -  a depiction made tangible.







Hi JM!


"There is no art without those who speak the language of the art world, and who know enough of the difference between artworks and real things to recognize that calling an artwork a real thing is an interpretation of it, and one which depends for its point and appreciation on the contrast between the art world and the real-world." (Arnheim, Art and Visual Perception)


I leafed through the book "Minimal Art" The Critical Perspective, Frances Colpitt. 

I think the title your teacher gave your plaster relief ‘sweet nothing’ made me go look for that book. And then I stumbled on that paragraph above.









For H!

The underground draws all life back in.

Left standing are stalks with brown leaves.

Crumpled like roasted onion.

The sun hangs low on the evening-blue backdrop.

A flower with black heads replies.

The reliefs.

The weight of the works against mine.

Everywhere and nowhere.

Inside and outside.

On the face of it.

On the surface time found a place.

I try to make predictions about a future.

Matter against matter.

People are looking.

I’ll see you.

A country for sale.



Dear Jóhan Martin


I jumped off the edge, and when I jumped there was warm blue sea down below, and on the seabed there was soft sand. But the closer I got to the watery surface, the rougher the sea and strong currents pulled in every direction. The seabed was lined with perilous skerries and sharp rocks. I wanted to turn back as I was flying through the air. But I wasn’t flying and couldn’t use flight to change course. I was in freefall and it was impossible to turn.





(Translation, FO-EN: Marita Thomsen)






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