Bjarne Melgaard is a Norwegian artist (b. 1967 in Sydney, Australia), who lives and works in New York.
Melgaard started out in the mid 1990ʼs with a neo expressionistic, frantic style of painting, sculpture and installation. His intense way of almost attacking the canvas with paint paired with a total control of the line where the brush strokes and splashes of paint forms a base for an explicit and sometimes offensive narrative. Organized chaos is one of the main principles both regarding composition and content. Melgaard’s way of focusing on capturing the tension of the creative moment makes his stylistic role models, like Edward Munch and Emil Nolde’s ever present. The variety of dazzling layers in different techniques gives the works a painterly quality that literally sweep the viewer into a myriad of color form and expression. Bjarne Melgaardʼs art deals with the dark side of humanity, such as self-destruction, deviant sexuality and odd religious beliefs. It provides an insight into subcultures and parallel worlds that exists alongside the world of normality. It often discusses, investigates and pushes the boundaries of societal acceptance. The work tells the story of exclusion and fear and it raises questions about instinct and passion, morality and normality. A male subject that can be seen as one of the artistʼs many alter egos often populates the complex and chaotic imagery. As a viewer you sometimes feel like a voyeur with total access to a strangers most intimate sphere. The same motifs and references appear over and over in Melgaard’s imagery almost as an obsession: the ape, the dog, black holes and male genitals. Itʼs almost as if the artist is trying to convince his audience by pounding his vision into their minds and it is not entirely without success – Bjarne Melgaard’s art leaves few unmoved.
Melgaard has had more than forty-five solo exhibitions in leading galleries around the world. His work has been seen in numerous group shows and at international art fairs; he is a frequent curator and collaborator, has written more than a dozen novels, and produced seven films. His latest book, A New Novel (2012), is the first English language novel published by Norwegian publishing giant Aschehoug. Melgaard’s work is owned by leading museums and art collections including, among others, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Oslo), Sammlung Friedrichshof (Vienna), The High Art Museum (Atlanta), Billedgalleri , Norwegian Art Council (Oslo), KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki), Malmö Konstmuseum (Bergen, Norway), MARTa Herford Museum (Herford, Germany), Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall (Stockholm), Munch Museum (Oslo), Museet for Samtidskunst (Oslo), National Museum (Oslo), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Moderna Museet (Stockholm ), Musée de Strasbourg (Strasbourg, France), The National Gallery (Oslo), The Rubell Family Collection (Miami), Saatchi Gallery Collection (London), and Collection S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (Gent). In 2011, Melgaard represented Norway at La Biennale Di Venezia, 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice. He has twice participated in the Biennale de Lyon. In 2011, Melgaard was given a mid-career retrospective at the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo. In 2014, Melgaard participated in The Whitney Biennial and in January 2015 Melgaard was the focus of the first of six important exhibitions at the Munch Museum in Oslo. MELGAARD + MUNCH The end of it all has already happened placed Edvard Munch’s oeuvre in direct dialogue with works by Melgaard. In late 2016, Skira Rizzoli published the first comprehensive monograph of the artist’s career.
Social, political and ideological issues are at the core of Bjarne Melgaard’s oeuvre. With reference to political and social issues, often in the form of marginal and subcultural phenomena, Melgaard’s art often raises provocative and critical questions.