Biography of Bjarne Melgaard
In recent years Bjarne Melgaard has been referred to as “the most famous Norwegian artist since Edvard Munch”. Engaging in mediums which range from painting, to sculpture, to writing, to installation, his art is both immersive and highly provocative. His desire to investigate psychological angst and his fascination with taboo-bending subcultures have lead him to create some weird and wonderful things—perhaps most notably his life-size pink panther figures which are splattered in paint, sport the attire of a madman and hold meth pipes.
Though born in Sydney, Australia, in 1967, Bjarne Melgaard was raised in Oslo. He would study at the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo before moving on to study at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam and the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht in the early 90s. While coming of age as an artist, Bjarne Melgaard made frequent trips to New York City, where he eventually settled (and remains today) and where he discovered the subversive subculture of S&M which would have a large influence on his work. Among his first works to be shown in New York were a series of sculptures of apes engaging in brutal sex acts, as well as an installation which featured chihuahuas walking around in baby clothes.
The artist has since attracted a great deal of attention with his sculptural chairs. His most famous chair comprised a half-naked black woman tied up, offering her posterior as a seat and her thigh high boots as a back rest. Another one was a pastiche of a similar work by Allen Jones, whereby a naked woman (white in Allen Jones’ work, black in Bjarne Melgaard’s) is on all fours, offering her back as a seat. Blasted for being misogynistic and racist, Bjarne Melgaard has insisted on remaining famously antagonistic; trading on this as part of his mythology.
Though lauded essentially for his large-scale canvases and sculptures, Bjarne Melgaard has claimed that his artistic process starts on paper entirely, and has therefore proven to be skilled draughtsman and printmaker. His oeuvre encompasses a plethora of drawings and prints, which vary in complexity but through a playful line and an ultra-bright color choice, always illustrate a common air of comedy or provocation.
Bjarne Melgaard’s works have become part of the permanent collections of major museums such as the MoMA in New York, the MOCA in Los Angeles, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, amongst others. Melgaard represented Norway at the Venice Biennale in 2011, and has also participated in the Lyon (2013) and Whitney (2014) Biennials.