Ragnar Kjartansson

by Goni Riskin | 21.06.16









Ragnar Kjartansson is an islandic artist, who is known around the world for his performance art, paintings, sculptures and music. His work has been presented at venues including the Arthouse at the Jones Center in Austin (2011), the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (2012), the Hangar Bicocca in Milan (2013), the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary in Vienna (2013 and 2014) and the New Museum in New York (2014). The artist represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and in 2011 he received the Malcolm McLaren Award at Performa 13 in New York.

One could say that Kjartansson was born onto the stage (1976, in Reykjavík) and grew up next to it, since his father directed and his mother starred in the Reykjavík City Theatre. He studied at the Royal Swedish Academy in Stockholm and the Icelandic Academy of the Arts in Reykjavík, focusing on painting, but soon discovered his passion for performance art.  

It is the art of an absurd performance, as well as its repetition and duration that interests Kjartansson the most. He creates his own playful, almost fantastic act, while combining performance art with traditional theater. Kjartansson’s art is interdisciplinary, as he uses painting, video and all means of theatrics. It is a memorable experience for the audience and the artist when he explores unusual situations, along with emotion, timelessness and endurance and its poetic and political vastness that are produced by it.

Curated by Chen Tamir, Kjartansson’s exhibition Architecture and Morality is currently running at the Tel Aviv Center of Contemporary Art until August 6th. It will mainly consist of paintings that Kjartansson created in the context of contemporary Middle East. For two full weeks he had painted the urban landscapes in the West Bank “en plaine air”. Alongside the paintings, two iconic video works by the artist will be shown:  A lot of sorrow (2013) is a collaboration with his favorite indie rock band The National, in which he had the band play the song Sorrow repeatedly for six hours in front of a live audience. The second video, Song, is a performance of a poem by Allen Ginsberg. Set in a melancholic atmosphere created by guitar music, three young women are continuously repeating phrases of the poem.

Text By Elinor Lazar
Photos had been taken at The Brown Hotel, CCA and surrounding areas.


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