“Famous Faces” by Kristin Eyfells

May 24 – August 26, 2012

“Lilla (K.H. Eyfells)”. Oil on canvas, late 20th Century.

Kristin Eyfells painted oversized, brightly colored, close-cropped faces of celebrities and public figures. These subjects were chosen from the arts, entertainment and political arenas. Her subjects, whose photos she chose from magazines and other media, included such figures as Mike Tyson, Greta Garbo, Winston Churchill, and Sean Connery, to name only a few. She would deepen her knowledge of her subject matter by studying biographical and autobiographical material. Her true interest though, was in their facial features, each unique to their owner, each telling their own story.  This marriage of the flat glossy surface of the photograph and the subject matter’s life experiences was the end result. While most people in the public eye try their best to wear a mask to shield their imperfections, Kristin made it a point to showcase them. Each wrinkle, scar, blemish became the focal point, highlighted by bold jagged lines that cross-stitched or zigzagged each other in bright garish colors. She called her pieces “face-scapes”, faces with prominent canyons and craters, mountains and hills, scenery reminiscent of her native Iceland, in which the viewer was invited to traverse each painting with their eyes. Even though Kristin’s subjects never knew her, she knew about them.


Kristin Halldórsdóttir Eyfells was born and raised in Iceland where she graduated from The Commercial College of Iceland. In 1947, she graduated from The Rudolph Schaefer School of Design in San Francisco, California. Kristin also studied psychology and art for some time at Hofstra College, Long Island, New York. In 1962, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and in 1963 was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, both from the University of Florida in Gainesville.  Kristin H. Eyfells took part in several group exhibitions in the United States, Iceland and Denmark.

Kristin had been painting for many years, but never expected to be an artist. At the age of 21 she opened a highly successful dress business in which she designed and sold women’s clothing. She hemmed and sewed patterns of fabric, something that she would later draw from for her paintings. She continued with this company for over 30 years, residing in both the United States and Iceland. It was in Rudolph Schaefer School of Design that she met Jóhann Eyfells, who she would marry four years later. It was Jóhann’s dedication to art that would inspire her to sign up for a sculpture class. Upon moving to Florida, Kristin continued her studies in psychology, another factor that would affect her paintings. Her fascination with people and the characteristics of their faces, as well as their personalities, would be explored in her brightly colored pieces. Though she did sculpture, she is remembered for her vivid and powerful portraits.

“Painting is action, not words, not an object…How can people talk about something that can be expressed only by doing.”
-Kristin Eyfells