Kjartansson draws on the entire arc of art in his performative practice. The histories of film, music, theatre, visual culture and literature find their way into his video installations, durational performances (sometimes lasting hours or weeks), drawing and painting. 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 playful work is full of unique moments: the dramatic and the banal come into conflict in a memorable way.
Kjartansson’s work has been exhibited widely. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at Guggenheim Bilbao, New Museum, New York and ICA, Boston. Other solo exhibitions include the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Frankfurter Kunstverein, and the BAWAG Contemporary in Vienna. Song, his first American solo museum show, was organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2011 and has since travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Kjartansson was the recipient of Performa’s 2011 Malcolm McLaren Award for his performance of Bliss, a twelve-hour live loop of the final aria of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and in 2009 he became the youngest artist to represent Iceland at the Venice Biennale’s International Art Exhibition.
He has participated in a number of exhibitions and festivals including ‘Manifesta’ and ‘La triennale di Torino; the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Museum of Contemporary Art (North Miami), ICA Boston and the Frankfurter Kunstverein which presented his first retrospective in Europe. In 2013 he was invited again to the Venice Biennale and, for the entire duration of the show, he put on a captivating musical performance in the aquatic spaces of the Arsenale.