On the side of the road heading towards Borgarfjörður eystri in the east of Iceland there is a unique sculpture sitting proudly in a field on the side of the road. At first it looks old but stopping and reading reveals that it is in memory of Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval who was born in 1885 and moved to the houses just below the sculpture when he was just 5 years old. His adoptive family raised him and he became a fisherman before moving to Reykjavik in 1902.
This impoverished start to life was unbelievable for someone so well known in Iceland today. So well known in fact that his face appears on the 2000 króna note and has an instrumental flute-tribute on Björk’s first album!
He is one of Iceland’s most prolific and finest artists and today his work can be seen in Kjarvalsstaðir, one of the three main buildings of Reykjavik Art Museum. He trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, sponsored by local fishermen and the Icelandic Confederation of Labour in his late 20’s.
This sculpture is easily photographed from the roadside. The hills rise behind the sculpture and these can be used to give context to the location.
Finding the Kjarval Sculpture
This sculpture is located in a field just before reaching the main village of Borgarfjörður eystri on the 94. As the road curves around from the high cliffs and the large bay with Borgarfjörður eystri in the distance the sculpture will be on the right.
There is a small pull in and an information board.