Gudmundur Gudmundsson, aka Erró, produces scathing, humorous visual indictments of war, autocracy, mass consumerism, and economic and cultural hegemony. In his series of colourful, cacophonous paintings, silkscreens, and kaleidoscopic collages he pays a twisted homage to canonical artists, comments on pressing political issues, references art history, and delights in wreaking visual havoc.
Erró began his career in the mid-1950s. Living in the midst of the uproar of 1960s Paris, as the battles in Algeria and Vietnam raged, shaped his outlook. His early tempera-and-ink paintings depicting ghoulish figures firmly situate him in the postwar European figurative art scene. His first encounter with American Pop art in 1962 however, was a watershed moment. Since then, Erró has been mining mass media—including the Disney empire, comics, magazines, newspapers, and advertisements—and art history for his roiling compositions.
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. In his words:
By dealing with daily events, I try to interpret the present, a short period of time in the life of the society, before it enters total oblivion.
A major retrospective of 50 years’ worth of his collages was held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2010. The artist still lives in Paris.