Ragnar Kjartansson

Man sitting on a bed playing guitar

A long overdue solo exhibition surveying the work of the internationally acclaimed Icelandic artist through live performance, music, film, painting, sculpture and drawing

Clichés and motifs of Western culture, romantic melancholy and even his own conception, provide the personal and often playful subject matter of Kjartansson’s emotionally charged work. 

The exhibition centred around the multi-channel video installation The Visitors (2012) and Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage (2011) featuring ten troubadours singing for up to eight hours a day. On the Lakeside, two women in Edwardian costume rowed a boat embracing in a never-ending kiss in Second Movement (2016). 

Ragnar Kjartansson presented these spell-binding and multi-sensory experiences amongst a wide-ranging survey, shining a spotlight on one of the contemporary art world’s most exciting and evolving artists.

Curated by the Barbican and organised in collaboration with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

About Ragnar Kjartansson

Born into a family of acting professionals and having grown up backstage at the Reykjavik City Theatre, Kjartansson’s work combines his experience of stage traditions with experiments in repetition and endurance. Having successfully represented Iceland at the 2009 Venice Biennale and participated in 2013 with standout works, Kjartansson is now at the cutting edge of contemporary performance art.

Reviews

‘At the heart of this show, the first major exhibition dedicated to the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson in London, is one of the great artworks made so far this century'‘
‘It could well be the best thing you see all summer‘
‘Terrific show‘
‘Genuine emotion beneath the ironic veneer of his performances and films‘
‘The whole show is a gorgeously relaxed immersion in Kjartansson’s humorous, whole-hearted and generous way of thinking‘
‘'The humorous starts to haunt you. The banal becomes sublime. You feel the stirring of unsettling emotion‘
The Times
‘The unstoppable force that is Ragnar Kjartansson‘

Discover

Play button icon
Artist Ragnar

Barbican Meets: Ragnar Kjartansson

We meet Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson to talk art, family and repetition as we welcome him into our Art Gallery for the first major retrospective of his work in the UK.

Play button icon
Photo of Ragnar Kjartansson and Leila Hasham

In Conversation: Ragnar Kjartansson

From the influence of Iceland, repetition, music and art, Kjartansson joins exhibition curator Leila Hasham for an evening of art, film and conversation to celebrate his first major UK retrospective.

Play button icon
Photo of Ragnar Kjartansson

Guest Picks: Ragnar Kjartansson

It would be foolish of us not to ask Ragnar to create a playlist for us. Like his work, prepare for an eclectic mix, drawing from an impressively wide range of musical genres, but all thoughtfully chosen and meaningful in their own way

Collection: Ragnar Kjartansson

Discover more about Ragnar Kjartansson's life and work and the experience of our visitors in the exhibition with our collection of articles, video and audio in our Blog collection

Touring

A version of this exhibition was shown at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. from 14 October 2016–8 January 2017

With thanks

Logo for Embassy of Iceland