Bjarne Melgaard 'Sugar Amnesia' at Rod Bianco Gallery
Bjarne Melgaard has never shun away from socio-cultural critique –nor has he ever offered a timid version of it. His latest series of works and installations – ‘The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment’ at Red Bull Arts and ‘Sugar Amnesia’ at Rod Bianco Gallery in Oslo, Norway are a testament to that.
The trouble and the pleasure of Melgaard’s work is the painstaking intensity personal experiences translate throughout his output as he challenges and faces the darkest of his inner controversia.
Regard him an autobiographical confessionist if you must, yet Melgaard’s work somehow always touches upon the uncanny reality we all sense, resulting in a intense balancing act on the borderline of diaristic narrative and universal concern.
The above-mentioned installations are no exception. Especially the latter at Rod Bianco Gallery which is Melgaard’s first solo exhibition in Norway in 17 years. Comprising of 3 parts the installation reconciles past and the present, seemingly both on personal and a professional level.
The remodeling of the iconic and infamous Light Bulb Man had a certain sense of ease over it, a feeling of self-satisfactory rearticulation that perhaps came from adjusting the sculpture to fit closer to drawings, so the artist could lastly reclaim the work in all its dignity. Candy coloured walls certainly underpinned that sense enthusiasm.
Melgaard’s newly produced work is a more sinister affair – And an absolutely brilliant one at that.
Part series of drawings and part installation, the exhibition confronts the subject of inadequacy, victimisation and conspicuous consumption alongside the fetishisation of identity. The duplicitous strategy Melgaard employs in his drawings are at the outmost effect; the seemingly banal lines and naive portrayals stand in stark contrast to the narrative fragments which carry a more ominous thematics.
The style is unmistakable Melgaardian as the themes vary from personal experiences and affairs to series of aberrant sketches of exposed young-adolescent girls. ‘Flimsey Girls’ series has been attributed to Melgaard’s recent assimilation with Tiqquin’ s ‘Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl’, although the man never needed an excuse to endorse sexuality and explicit content.
The installation part of the exhibition is a continuum of ‘The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment’ where the urban/suburban decay is replaced by outdoor scene,the scattered dolls wearing miniature versions of Melgaard’s latest clothing collections. The dystopian landscape we are faced with is thus replicating and if possible amplifying the gloomy feeling of hopelessness hovering over the scene, as bewildered youth slots neatly into prefabricated lifestyle. The socio-cultural assembly underpinning the installation is clearly pointing towards how by instrumentalizing feeling of inadequacy, one, the consumer, the Young-Girl, is pressed into conforming to society and ultimately succumbs to the dynamics (or lack of) capitalistic consumerism.