The Perfect Landscape
(Hið fullkomna landslag, 2009)
Hanna, a young art historian who has recently concluded her studies in Amsterdam, returns to Iceland to take up a position at a small gallery in Reykjavík. After all this time away, the city feels unfamiliar to her, and the nation seems caught up in a craze of high stakes and high finance.
It is the height of the “góðæri”, Iceland’s roaring noughts, when the country’s go-getter robber-barons could do no wrong – until the eventual crash and its decade long hangover. Hanna’s arrival at the gallery coincides with another new recruit: a previously unknown landscape painting by a famous 20th century Icelandic artist. It is quite the coup for a small, independent gallery but Hanna and her co-worker Steini have their doubts about the authenticity of the mysterious painting. However, during this tumultuous period in Icelandic history, when works of art are being appraised according to their investment value rather than their artistic merit, no one seems all that eager to question the painting’s origins.
This light-hearted mystery novel delves into the murky world of art forgeries and carries an undertone that questions some of the ethics and insecurities of the art world itself; a world which the author, a painter and art critic, knows all too well.