Ragnar Kjartansson was a guest of the Outset Bialik Residency in May 2016. During his residency he worked on his solo exhibition Architecture and Mortality at the Center Of Contemporary Art (CCA).
Ragnar Kjartansson is one of Iceland’s most well-known contemporary artists. His work has been exhibited widely; solo exhibitions have been held at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the New Museum in New York, the Migros Museum in Zurich, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, and the BAWAG Contemporary in Vienna. Upcoming shows include a major retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery opening July 2016 and traveling to the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC.
Ragnar Kjartansson creates durational performances, drawings, paintings, and video installations inspired by stage traditions, film, music, literature, and their histories. In any medium he uses, Kjartansson looks at pretending and staging as ways in which an artist can explore sincere emotion, employing romantic suffering and Weltschmerz.
For his exhibition at the CCA, Kjartansson created during his residency a new, ambitious body of paintings within the specific context of Israel. He spent two weeks painting the urban landscapes in the West Bank en plaine aire, akin to his performative painting practice over the past few years.The paintings are presented alongside two iconic video works by Kjartansson: A Lot of Sorrow (2013) and Song (2011).
The videos and paintings both address endurance and timelessness — whether the ongoing, deadlocked conflict that is the Occupation or the Romantic look at the emotional sublime. The vastness that is beyond any art’s ability to fully express can be both political and poetic. Kjartansson’s interest in music and his use of repetitive performance to harness collective emotion is a hallmark of his practice, and comes through in both the videos and the paintings that comprise Architecture and Morality, whose title comes from the 1981 hit record by OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark).