Hundreds of people in Bucharest attended one of the most important and relevant happenings on the local contemporary art scene – the talk with the famous international artist Ragnar Kjartansson. The artist has recently visited Bucharest invited by Gaep Gallery, in partnership with i8 Gallery from Reykjavík, Iceland.
Kjartansson held a talk with the public at ARCUB, while presenting the screening of one of his most exciting video installations, Bliss. This artwork represents the live performance of a 3-minute aria of Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for 12 hours without any interruption, thus, turning into a resilient marathon for the vocalists and the orchestra.
“My works are playing very much with the idea of culture. It’s similar in Romania, as well as in an Iceland, because we are part of a Western culture, but we are not really in it. We can aspire to be in it. It’s almost like doing cultural appropriation, as a guest, with the biggest culture in the world. The same for the Marriage of Figaro. It is very interesting in the sense that it’s a disguise. This is basically a feminist piece which deals with forgiveness by a woman. The work is a 12-hour long piece where artists don’t feel any pressure to perform, but really is bliss. What happens there is beyond any intellectual act. It is like turning Mozart into a shamanistic experience, something so profound happens,” – Kjartansson shared with the Romania public.
Present for one day in Bucharest, Ragnar Kjartansson has also met young artists and Gaep’s collectors. “The presence of such a powerful international artist as Ragnar should be seen as a boost for emerging artists, as he is a contemporary art role-model with a practice at the highest standards. His being here is also a proof of how a successful international career looks like,”– states Andrei Breahnă, founder of Gaep.
In a current context of crisis, war and censorship, Kjartansson has spoken about the role of art in the society: „Art has become more and more market driven. It’s very important to look at that as a funny joke, not a serious thing. Not be frustrated about it or aspire for it. I really believe in art for the sake of art. It sounds frivol, but it is not. You should just feel this freedom that is in the air, how fragile it is and how important it is. And you, as people in the arts and culture, you are super important for the future of this country.”
Romanians Buy More Contemporary Artworks than Before the Pandemic
Unlike western countries and the USA, where contemporary art plays a transformational part in the evolution of society (the USA hold 43% of the sales in the global market, followed by China – 20% and UK – 17%; 2021 data from The Art Market 2022 by Art Basel and UBS), contemporary art in Romania is accessed by a narrow audience. There is good news. The market is growing, once there are implemented programmes aiming to increase the access of the wider public to art. Gaep had acted in this direction for a couple of years now, offering the public a comprehensive contemporary art programme that includes, complementary to art exhibitions, events where visitors share thoughts and ideas with artists, curators and gallery experts.
This strategy was been mirrored by Gaep’s portfolio structure. “Before the pandemic, Gaep’s portfolio was balanced in terms of clients’ nationality – 50% being Romanian and 50 % foreign clients. However, after 2020, the weight of Romanian clients reached 75% – figure that confirms a steady increase of the local contemporary art market,” – Andrei Breahnă, Gaep’s founder, concludes. The gallery organised 45 exhibitions at its headquarters and in online, participated in over 25 international fairs and organised educational events and itinerant exhibitions in 10 Romanian cities.