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Absolute Installation

Bjarne Melgaard

Bjarne Melgaard had his breakthrough in Norway in the 1990s during a time when the socalled Neo-conceptualism was the dominant trend: An idea-based art that stood in opposition to Melgaard’s more spontaneous and emotional form of expression. His work can be seen in the context of a European Expressionist tradition with roots reaching back to the turn of the 20th century and artists such as Edvard Munch and the German Expressionist groups "Die Brücke" and "Der blaue Reiter."

© Bjarne Melgaard, New love, old paint ... (Dedicated to Margaux Hemingway) Make me clean again: Some pain poems, the universe according to Paul Gaugin, sex in the artworld and one week of complete misery..., 1996–1997, installation

Melgaard is known for being provocative and for pushing the moral pain threshold. His motifs and themes are often based on his own experiences and have clear misanthropic overtones.

The installation New love, old paint … (Dedicated to Margaux Hemingway) Make me clean again: Some pain poems, the universe according to Paul Gauguin, sex in the artworld and one week of complete misery …, 1996-1997 is full of references, content and materials. Rugs and coconuts are strewn across the floor, while the walls are covered with Melgaard’s characteristic drawings. The textiles and drawings give the installation an intimate atmosphere and a private mood. As is so often the case with Melgaard, the work makes several more or less sexually-explicit allusions. The title refers to, among other things, the artist Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), famous for his Polynesian motifs, but also for his somewhat licentious romantic life – with a family in Denmark and mistresses in Tahiti. Both the coconuts and the floating carpets evoke water and more southerly latitudes. If we look at the installation in its entirety, we also recognise an echo of Gauguin’s decorative vocabulary, often referred to as Synthetism – an emphasis on large areas of color, bound together by line.

Bjarne Melgaard was born in 1967 in Sydney, Australia, grew up in Norway and now lives and works in New York.


Line Engen