The tragic sentence on Ragnar Kjartansson’s light box billboard, shining with a yellowish hue in both directions, is taken from one of Edvard Munch’s own notes. The text is made sculptural, going beyond the written word and into form. In the style of American roadside “Jesus saves” signs, the sculptural form is made out of LED lights, plastic and painted stainless steel. The original is a piece of paper with capital letters, scribbled down in a direct manner.
I FELT OUR LOVE
LYING ON THE
EARTH LIKE A
HEAP OF ASHES
With Our Love, Kjartansson proposes not only a symbol for Munch but also our collective struggle with the big issues of life. As sad and intimate as this sentence is, it sums up Munch’s oeuvre and tells us something about our own love and heartbreak, life and death itself – issues that concern all of us, but which we often deal with in solitude. Munch’s notes are fascinating as they reveal the poet and the conceptual artist behind the painter. Kjartansson reminds us that Munch’s paintings are about representing ideas and giving them form.
The sculpture is a reminder of the experiences, memories and emotions that marked Munch and followed him throughout his life. Kjartansson is drawn to the feeling of emotional devastation that lies within this sentence, a manifestation of the power and grandeur of sorrow. Simultaneously Kjartansson points to the humour we can experience when encountering Munch’s work; «Munch is so hardcore serious that while we feel his agonizing pain, we are also amused by it».
Ragnar Kjartansson (1976) lives and works in Reykjavik. In his performative practice, he draws on the entire arc of art. The history of film, music, theatre, visual culture and literature all find their way into his video installations, durational performances, drawings and paintings. 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 in institutions internationally.