Gallerist Q&A – Ásdís Þula Þorláksdóttir

In this series, we talk to the founders and directors of leading galleries from across the Nordics about the personal stories behind them becoming gallerists, and the principles they work by. Meet Ásdís Þula Þorláksdóttir, who originally planned to open a gallery in her friend's garage and is now the founder and owner of Þula gallery in Reykjavík.

Photo of Ásdís Þula at Þulas first opening

Courtesy of Þula Gallery

How do you identify? What do you call yourself? (gallerist/dealer/other)


Traditionally dealers / gallerists came from the same social group as the collectors. Recently there has been a shift towards coming from the artists' side. Where would you say you started?

My father is a painter and working with him sparked my interest in opening a gallery to work with other artists as well.

At first the gallery was just supposed to be a small space in my friend's garage but when COVID hit she decided to use it to expand her home and I found myself a lovely space in downtown Reykjavík, opening the doors of Þula in the summer of 2020.

Coming from a family and social group of artists has really motivated me to focus highly on the collaboration with the artists I work with, and put my energy into building great relationships with them.

Installation view of Áslaug Íris Katrín Friðjónsdóttir at Þula

Courtesy of Þula Gallery

Outside Þula works by Aðalheiður Þórhallsdóttir

Courtesy of Þula Gallery

What are the ethics of your job? Have they changed since you started?

I would consider my main ethical principles to be: being truthful and honest in all communications when mediating art as well as making it accessible to everyone, no matter what their social status or background is.

What was the first show you made?

If I am being perfectly honest, my first show was held outside a local mall in Akureyri, a town in the North of Iceland where I lived at the time.

I must have been around 8 years old and I had my friends make drawings on paper that I then took with me to show and sell outside the mall. It went pretty well, the show was a hit and everything sold!

Installation view from Hulda Vilhjálmsdóttir solo exhibition

Courtesy of Þula Gallery

Rakel McMahon, one of Þulas artists, with her work from the solo LAX

Courtesy of Þula Gallery

David Risley is an artist. He ran David Risley Gallery, in London (2002-2010) and Copenhagen (2010-2018). He was founding Co-curator of Bloomberg Space, London (2002-2005), Co-founder of Zoo Art Fair, London (2004), and Co-founder and Co-owner of CHART. He continues to write, curate, and develop projects with artists. He is developing a sustainability project for public-facing institutions.

Ásdís Þula Þorláksdóttir founded Þula in July 2020, a contemporary art gallery that quickly become a well known name on the Icelandic art scene. Þula focuses on emerging artists, in combination with more established ones through monthly exhibitions.