“Insanity — a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.”
― R.D. Laing
Bjarne Melgaard’s exhibition at Patricia Low Contemporary will feature a new series of twenty eight small scale paintings developed by the artist in response to his ongoing interest in extreme psychological states and the imagery such altered consciousness inspires. The works evoke the primal, even deranged emotions explored in art movements such as COBRA, Folk Art and Outsider Art; while the frenzied gestures and physicality of the oil paint application firmly root the paintings in the singular, personal domain of the artist.
The works are both remnants of the performance of their own production and what the artist describes as the “amoral act” of painting. By this, Melgaard is talking about painting within contemporary art as “fetish objects” in the hyper-capitalist system. Painting as totem for the twenty first century. The pictures are brash and brutal in their sophistication, often focusing on demonic faces which melt into layers of blurred color. There are also bizarre dreamlike scenes that feature otherworldly creatures, part dolphin, part alligator.
Alongside the “dolphin-gators” are a tribe of goblins, wreaking havoc on all who they encounter. Obviously regretting their dastardly deeds the red and orange fiends are also somewhat tearful. This is the logic of the illogical. A world in which we are invited to abandon conventional ways of seeing. A world where you don’t just look at a painting, but you also let the painting look at you.
The exhibition’s title NO FISTING TONIGHT references an extreme form of adult play. The title came about through playful conversations between the artist and gallery owner Patricia Low, their manicured nails and difference in hand sizes inspiring the phrase. Such celebrations of the colloquial and unseemly are typical of Melgaard’s methods of enquiry and unflinching gaze. Patricia Low also features alongside the artist on two newly produced wallpapers that will be fitted in the gallery and act as a backdrop for the paintings. The repeated use of trashy portraits and self-portraits, alongside text and simple graphics, place the wallpaper design in the realm of Instagram and social media style aesthetics in contrast to the analogue hand produced paintings.