In addition to his video work, Kjartansson has become known for inhabiting galleries and more unexpected locations where he performs live, often for extended periods. For the 2009 Venice Biennale, he painted portraits of his friend, day in and day out, for six months, in a crumbling palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal. The ornate stone room was eventually filled with hundreds of oil paintings and the aggregate ephemera of days spent in each other’s company. A “social sculpture” emerged from the accumulation of painting, palazzo, friends, trash, musical instruments, and exhibition visitors watching the artist and subject at work.
Kjartansson’s approach wavers between a besotted optimism and a deadpan, sometimes unnerving, directness. Ritual, repetition, and an almost hallucinogenic reverie share the stage with humor, levity, and a charismatic impulse to entertain.
This exhibition is organized by Dan Byers, associate curator of contemporary art.
Download the Ragnar Kjartansson: Song brochure.