One of the must-see exhibitions of 2023, according to The Art Newspaper, this presentation of Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson features works in a variety of media, ranging from drawing and painting to performance and large-scale spatial works. The exhibition, entitled 'Epic Waste of Love and Understanding', is developed in close collaboration with the artist.
Widely recognized as one of the most exciting and significant voices of contemporary art, Icelandic Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976) takes a both loving and critical look at Western culture. Love, identity, melancholy, masculinity, power and powerlessness are among the artist’s central themes.
He often uses repetition as a method – repeating a motif, a scene or a single strophe over a prolonged period of time. The balance between existential or political seriousness and superficial cliché invests the works with a precise, quivering ambiguity.
A master of all
Ragnar Kjartansson often makes us both laugh and cry. This field of tension between tragedy and comedy has become the artist’s signature – as, for example, in the work Me and My Mother (2015) which is part of the Louisiana Collection.
Mastering a multitude of genres, media and roles, Kjartansson acts as a director and a musician, a comedian and a showman, a critic and a visual artist. In his works, he uses a multitude of references – historical, art historical, literary, political and pop cultural – that all stem from a curious engagement in our dealings with the world here and now.
The Gaurdian, 2019
An array of video art, paintings, sculptures and drawings will be on display, including several of the artist’s most beloved works. Among them will be his immersive nine-channel video installation The Visitors (2012), featuring Kjartansson and a group of his musician friends performing at a crumbling mansion formerly owned by the Astor family in upstate New York.
Lesser-known pieces will include Mercy (2004), a single-channel film of the artist, Elvis-like with slicked-back hair and a creamy white suit, strumming a guitar and repeating the refrain “Oh why do I keep on hurting you?”.
Ragnar Kjartansson has exhibited widely at leading art institutions around the world. The exhibition is the first major retrospective in Scandinavia and follows extensive presentations at Louisiana of other key figures in contemporary art who work in multiple media, such as Marina Abramović, Pipilotti Rist, Mika Rottenberg and Arthur Jafa.