Those intrepid heroes, how are they treated,
Those who wade out into battle?
Wolf-skinned they are called. In battle
They bear bloody shields.
Red with blood are their spears when they come to fight.
– Thórbiörn Hornklofi, 9th century
Gavin Brown's enterprise is pleased to present Ignorant Transparencies, the gallery’s first solo exhibition with
Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard.
Melgaard cannot stop. He is the most prodigiously compulsive, excessively promiscuous exhibitor working today.
In the past 24 months alone he has staged 7 exhibitions – at Maccarone (2011; After Shelley Duvall '72), Ramiken
Crucible (2012; Ideal Pole; baby tigers), ICA, London (2012; A House to Die In; with Snøhetta), Luxembourg &
Dayan, NY (2012/13; A New Novel; doll houses and Proenza Schouler), Venus Over Manhattan, NY (2013; Gang
Bust; black W. Copley, black Allen Jones, Big Fat Black Cock, Inc.), Rod Bianco, NY (2013; Mary Boone
paintings), and White Columns, NY (2013; Sverre Bjertnæs, including an incredible 'interview' on film). His
oppressively constant creation becomes instantaneous, lionhearted fulfillment, no matter how amoral or antisocial
the art. Questions of taste and quality become slippery and messy, in an all-out irrational, anti-narrative pathos.
Like his Pepto-Bismol-hued alter ego, the Pink Panther (a perfect embodiment of the Norwegian's ongoing
berzerking of aesthetic cancellation), Melgaard is simultaneously the fearsome predator and also the uncool loser
– don't forget that relentless erzatz-jazz theme tune to accompany this vision of the horrifying loneliness of our
In a startling and depressing downward spiritual development, we have moved from William Blake's encounter with
cosmic fearful symmetry – our original, earliest other – to Bjarne Melgaard (in his words a “45-year old worn-out
faggot”). Melgaard makes a perversion not only of the notion of an artist, but also the artist's relationship with the
physical 'natural' world – in his hands now an irrelevance, invisible and grotesque. In Melgaard we find complete
alienation and extreme asymmetry.
Melgaard's starkly anti-aesthetic and anti-formalist art offers a new, more complicated, last-chance idea of beauty,
one always on the precipice of breakdown and shame. In a crescendo of paint, dolls and crystals, at Gavin
Brown’s enterprise Melgaard will present his most ambitious, tragic and unwieldy exhibition to date – Pink never
felt so dismal.
Melgaard is a Norwegian artist (b. 1967 in Sydney, Australia), who lives and works in New York. He grew up
between Norway and Australia and attended the Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo, the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, and
the Jan Van Eyck Academie Maastricht. Aside from his encompassing artistic practice, Melgaard is a frequent
curator, has written some 14 novels, and produced a number of films.
Melgaard has exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad, including solo presentations at the Institute of
Contemporary Arts (ICA), London; Luxembourg & Dayan, New York; de Appel arts centre, Amsterdam; Astrup
Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo and Bergen Kunstmuseum, Bergen, Norway; Stedelijk Museum,
Amsterdam; and MARTa Herford, Hannover, Germany. In 2011, Melgaard represented Norway at the 54th Venice
Biennial, Venice. Upcoming projects include: 9 Artists, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (curated by Bartholomew
Ryan) (cat.); 12th Biennale de Lyon, Lyon, France (curated by Gunnar Kvaran); Momentum 7, Nordic Biennial of
Contemporary Art, Moss, Norway (curated by Erlend Hammer and Power Ekroth); and a collection display at the
Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo, Norway.