Ragnar Kjartansson, Hot Shame - The Quest of Shelley's Heart


Preview 20th February - 6.30 pm
20th February - 2nd April 2007

Ragnar Kjartansson (Reykjavik, Iceland 1976) loves to define himself as a bluesman:  a romantic artist that uses the blues to purify his soul.  Incredible performing talent, Kjartansson is an eclectic artist able to emotionally penetrate the audience through complex installations where he recites for hours, for days, bringing to the scenic camouflage melancholic heroes, that narrate a sad life and yet incredibly beautiful, vehicle of torn passion and desperation.

In contact with the Icelandic Theatrical environment since childhood – his parents, an actress and a director – Ragnar Kjartansson develops an artistic practice that involves the most desperate expressive means:  from video to sculpture, from music to design, from singing to performance. In performing, Kjartansson is able to synthesize all expressive forms in the same temporal and visual space:  space of absolute illusion wherein to interpret a sort of strange and slow trance, romantic and sad characters, happy and defeated.

The exhibition that Ragnar Kjartansson presents at the Galleria Riccardo Crespi begins from a reflection on the performance and is inserted in the project The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder.

In this second appointment of the project curated by Marianna Vecellio, the suggestions proposed by the performance materialize in an independent set design: in the gallery space, two videos and about 400 watercolours become autonomous narrative element and complete the performance that Ragnar Kjartansson presents for the opening in Milan on February the 20th.

Kjartansson is influenced by performance and videos of the 1970s that investigate physical limits, for these reasons uses familiar methods of communication like cinema and music: the loop, to be more precise the repeated actions and images, extends this procedure to the 400 watercolours exhibited that suggest again different interpretations of the same theme:  the heart.  In the video The Quest of Shelly’s Heart, the Icelandic artist plays with the space of reality until disappearing in itself:  he chooses a legend, the one on the burial of the heart separated from body, by the English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and outlines research mixed with romanticism, death and eternity.  During the performance, the space at Riccardo Crespi Gallery is modelled and transformed:  the poet’s bleeding heart manifests itself and includes the other exhibited works, creating a Unicum narrative where works and actions are mixed, giving life to installations that bring to mind tableaux vivants.