Ragnar Kjartansson draws on the entire arc of art in his performative practice. The history of film, music, theatre, visual culture and literature find their way into his video installations, durational performances, drawing and painting. Pretending and staging become key tools in the artist’s attempt to convey sincere emotion and offer a genuine experience to the audience.
Kjartansson’s work has been exhibited widely. Recent solo exhibitions and performances have been held at the New Museum, ICA Boston, Guggenheim Bilbao, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and PS1 MoMA. In 2011, he was the recipient of Performa’s 2011 Malcolm McLaren Award for his performance ‘Bliss’. In 2009, Kjartansson represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale, and in 2013 his work was featured at the Biennale’s main exhibition, The Encyclopedic Palace. Kjartansson was born in 1976 in Reykjavík and studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and The Royal Academy, Stockholm.
Bjarni Friðrik Jóhannsson has been an acquaintance of mine since the turn of the century. Bjarni was the drummer in Silfurtónar, Singapore Sling and he played with me a bit in the country band Funerals when the bassist had an angry outburst. Bjarni was tricked to pose naked, his chest adorned with the writing “svín” (pig) on a poster for the the album Hold (Flesh) by hard rock band Ham (in the background there is a man in priest costume wielding a bat and a motorcycle ). Bjarni now works as store manager at Klettur ehf. Running into Bjarni is always a pleasure. I ask him “so how are you doing,” he answers: “miserable” or “it’s all shit”. An honest man in Iceland. The idea for the piece came vividly to me early this summer. I called Bjarni and asked him if he would like to listen to “Take it Easy” over and over again while I painted his portrait in a shed. “I can’t say I like the idea” Bjarni replied. Here are the paintings. A monument of our dreadfully boring moments together in the culture house The Shed.