TB21 presents Ragnar Kjartansson's 'Emotional Landscapes'

A fascinating exhibition in dialogue with 19th- and 20th-century American works at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza


The TBA21 (Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary) Foundation presents at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza a major exhibition by Ragnar Kjartansson with four video installations, a concert and works on paper (22 February to 26 June, 2022). Co-organised by TBA21 and MNTB, 'Emotional Landscapes' is installed in the museum's 19th and 20th century American art collections, the most important in Europe, offering the opportunity to explore the interplay between Kjartansson's work, iconic American imagery and the artist's fascination with America and its landscapes.

Emotional Landscapes' builds on TBA21's 15-year relationship with the artist, during which the foundation has supported his work through commissions, production and exhibitions. Titled after the singer Björk's famous lyrics, 'Emotional Landscapes', it includes four video installations from the TBA21 Collection, shown together for the first time: 'The Visitors' (2012), 'The Man' (2010), 'The End' (2009) and 'God' (2007, co-commissioned by TBA21 and The Living Art Museum in Reykjavik). In addition to works from the TBA21 collection, the exhibition also features a series of watercolours on loan from various collections entitled From the Valley of World-Weariness in British Columbia (2011). As a kick-off to TBA21's 20th anniversary celebrations, the exhibition opens with a live concert by Kjartansson and Kristín Anna. 

Ragnar Kjartansson, The End, 2009

"We could not think of a more fitting way to celebrate 20 years of TBA21's legacy of collaborating with artists to help them realise their most ambitious projects than to present an exhibition showcasing Ragnar's incredible boundary-breaking practice, which we have vigorously supported for years," says Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, president and founder of TBA21.

She adds: "Experiencing his works in the context of American imagery at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza adds a dimension of resonance to his art. Taking up the museum's challenge to find interaction and dialogue between the respective collections is a fascinating journey in which we revisit both the museum's collection and our own activities in the current context. Following the success of Walid Raad's critical examination of the collection, Ragnar's exhibition will broaden these conversations from a different perspective. 

Ragnar Kjartansson, Portrait. Courtesy the artista

"Kjartansson's works are so monumental in size, materiality and subject matter that it is rare to experience them together," explains Soledad Gutiérrez, chief curator of TBA21 and curator of 'Emotional Landscapes'. "This exhibition puts the works in dialogue with each other, showing new intersections and clearly revealing the romance between Kjartansson's work and iconic representations of the United States".

'Emotional Landscapes' is the seventh exhibition in a five-year collaboration between TBA21 and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, following most recently Claudia Comte's 'After Nature' and Walid Raad's 'Cotton Under My Feet' (at MNTB until 23 January 2022).

Kjartansson was born in 1976 in Reykjavik and studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and the Royal Academy in Stockholm.