Exhibition Opening – Ragnar Kjartansson: God, I Feel So Bad
Saturday, 3 June 16h00 at Hafnarhús
The Mayor of Reykjavík will open the exhibition
After a successful series of international appearances in recent years, including major survey exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic, Ragnar Kjartansson opens his first museum show in his homeland, Iceland. One might not expect such a title as God, I Feel So Bad at this point in the artist’s career. However, Kjartansson speaks for himself and the audience, as he acknowledges art’s ever persuasive allure. This is manifested in the opening work in the first of three durational performaces. To Music, 2012, is based on Schober’s romantic poetry that suggests that art may transport us all into a better world ”when life's mad tumult wraps around me.”
Kjartansson is the first to note that this world of art, in which he resides, is frail. “I don’t believe in the truth of art. As my mother says, ‘Let’s not destroy a good story with the truth.’” (Calvin Tomkins “Play it Again”, The New Yorker, April 11 2016).
The artist has explored the transcendental power of art through a variety of forms, repeatedly confronting the illusion it inevitably entails. “Actually I think that the only true art is enjoying art.” (Ragnar Kjartansson, The End, 2009).
And there will be plenty for the audience to enjoy. The exhibition reflects Kjartansson‘s ode to art in all its glory, to music, theater, film, literature and – naturally - visual arts. This celebration is manifested through selected works, dating from 2004 to the present; live endurance performance, large-scale video installations, photography, sculpture, painting and drawings.
A significant work in the exhibition is World Light – The Life and Death of an Artist, 2015. The four-channel video installation offers the mind boggling twenty-odd hours documenting an attempt at creating the ultimate art experience. With painted drapes, an original score performed live on the set, a script based on a novel by the Nobel Prize author Halldór Laxness and acting in the hands of the artist and his Icelandic entourage, this epic filmic experiment is a Gesamtkunstwerk bringing together key elements in Kjartansson‘s art.
Reykjavík Art Museum is proud to host this elaborate exhibition. Kjartansson’s work will take over the museum building, providing a fascinating insight into the multilayered world that he has constructed over the years. Many of the works have never before been exhibited in Iceland, notably the more recent ones that have insured the artist‘s place as a leading figure in the international art scene. Furthermore, some intriguing and rarely seen early works will be on display.
Curator Markús Þór Andrésson notes that “Kjartansson’s work reveals the degree to which we continually construct our reality, and his playful approach reminds us of the pleasure that we may allow ourselves in that process.” (Ragnar Kjartansson, Koenig Books, 2016). Born into a theatrical family, Kjartansson introduces the notion of acting and staging in his performative practice. He moves freely between art forms, rendering music sculptural, painting performative and film into tableaux vivants. Ever present is the scrutiny into the human condition, the emotional layers, the social dimensions and the contradicting elements that make up our every-day lives.
Ragnar Kjartansson was born in Reykjavík in 1976 where he lives and works. He graduated from Iceland Academy of the Arts in the year 2001, also studying in Sweden at the Royal Academy in Stockholm in 2000. Kjartansson’s solo exhibitions are numerous; the two latest major exhibitions took place in 2016-2017 in Barbican Centre, London and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, and his work has been the focus of important exhibitions in American and European museums such as Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015-2016) and New Museum, New York and Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (2014) to name a few. Performances, happenings and group exhibitions cover many years and many countries of the world.
About Reykjavík Art Museum
Reykjavík Art Museum is a leading art museum in Iceland, housed in three distinct buildings in central Reykjavík: Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir and Ásmundarsafn. Since 1973 Reykjavík Art Museum has presented works from emerging practitioners to internationally recognized artists. Reykjavík Art Museum oversees the City’s art collection, such as open-air artwork, and it boasts of many of the most famous works by Icelandic artist, with the total collection counting 17,000 paintings, sculptures and more, regularly on display at the museum and in various official buildings.
The exhibition is supported by GAMMA.