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Ragnar Kjartansson | Woodcuts & Etchings

Ragnar Kjartansson, German Darkness, 2020, etching
Ragnar Kjartansson, Fire 1, 2020, woodcut

Ragnar Kjartansson’s first collaboration with BORCH Editions simultaneously marks his first exposure to the medium of printmaking. It resulted in a suite of twenty-five etchings and seven large-scale woodcuts.

Every act of artistic creation is a mood. The mood in BORCH’s printmaking studio completely fascinated me. When asked to do a series I visited the premises and fell in love with the staff, the building, the methods, smell and last but not least I fell in love with the lunch.—Ragnar Kjartansson

So, Kjartansson set out to do a series of prints immersed in this atmosphere. Kjartansson considers the artistic practice as some kind of performance and now he was performing the calm printmaker, cycling to the studio in Copenhagen with cigar in his mouth. In contrast with this highly self-aware mood, Kjartansson decided to work with personal images scattered in his notebooks and scratched them onto copper.

Ragnar Kjartansson, The Board Meeting, 2020, etching
Ragnar Kjartansson, In the Library at Rokeby, 2020, etching

The seven large-scale woodcuts depict graphic, bordering on cliché images of flames in red and yellow against a black background. The subject of fire—a universal symbol for the paradox of destruction and creation—runs like a red thread through Kjartansson’s work. His fascination for flames stems from his childhood. ‘As a child I loved to draw flames, I would draw houses and then put them on fire drawing flames in the windows. One could say that early on it was evident that I was either a psychopath or a romantic.’

Kjartansson’s suite of twenty-five etchings is a collection of self-contained vignettes; poetic, comical, sometimes absurd scenes combining image and text. He collects scribbles and words in a notebook he is carrying with him wherever he goes. In his etchings, Kjartansson transfers the carefree, spontaneous attitude of his scribbles into permanent traces on copper. These are personal moments transferred into the medium of the multiple.

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Kunsten at trykke – Kobbertryk. We follow Ragnar Kjartansson as he experiments with various printing techniques for the very first time. By JJ Film

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