Thaddaeus Ropac’s Instagram Is About to Get Weird, Thanks to a Takeover by Artist Bjarne Melgaard

The artist will open a simultaneous show at Ropac's London gallery titled “Bodyparty (Substance Paintings).”

Bjarne Melgaard in 2013. Photo courtesy of Tony Cox.
Bjarne Melgaard in 2013. Photo courtesy of Tony Cox.

The artist Bjarne Melgaard is taking over dealer Thaddaeus Ropac’s Instagram account this Friday as part of a six-week digital show titled “Life Killed My Chihuahua.” Along with a mix of found photos and newly created imagery, Melgaard will chronicle the emergent counterculture in his hometown of Oslo, where the artist recently returned after spending a decade in New York.

“Working on a digital, globalized platform, I thought it was interesting to communicate something that is more local,” Melgaard tells artnet News. “After 10 years living there, I got very tired of all the references to the New York art life all the time. I thought it could be interesting to articulate something about another part of the world that has something to say.”

Bjarne Melgaard, <i>Untitled</i> (2017–18). Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Bjarne Melgaard, Untitled (2017–18). Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

For Melgaard—who isn’t terribly active on Instagram himself—the project was an exercise in vulnerability. “I post once in a while on my own Instagram,” he says. “I’m drawn to the fact that you can put the information out there and it just goes—you have no control over it anymore. I like it, but I also find it a bit scary.”

Melgaard co-curated the Instagram presentation with Elise By Olsen, the 18-year-old founder and editor-in-chief of Wallet magazine. When she was only 13, Olsen founded Recens Paper, a publication that became well known for its coverage of Oslo’s youth culture.

Bjarne Melgaard, <i>Untitled</i> (2017–18). Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Bjarne Melgaard, Untitled (2017–18). Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

“The shape of the project resulted from a conversation Bjarne and I had about the loneliness of being an artist,” says Julia Peyton-Jones, Ropac’s senior global director who first thought up the idea. “One of the things about being an artist is that you are reliant on yourself for the subject matter. You operate in a zone that exists between you and the work. People don’t have access to that zone. They can see the work, but they can’t see the thoughts behind it. What this platform gives us is access into Bjarne’s thinking.”

“I see it as a digital artist’s book,” she continues. “It’s a way of seeing Bjarne through his own eyes. It’s an incredible privilege.”

Bjarne Melgaard, <i>Untitled</i> (2017–18). Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Bjarne Melgaard, Untitled (2017–18). Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Innovative though “Life Killed My Chihuahua” may be, the digital exhibition is far from the most unusual project the artist has going on right now. For one thing, Melgaard has written a script for a puppet show, which will premiere on March 8 at PS122 in New York, part of the performance space’s reopening.

He has also designed a house to be built near Edvard Munch’s former home and studio in Oslo, pending approval from heritage conservation authorities. The project has caused controversy in the Norwegian capital, and not only because of Melgaard’s proposed changes to a landscape once painted by the country’s most famous artist. According to the New York Times, Melgaard’s planned building is shaped like a UFO and would come with inflatable, sex-friendly furniture, a “drug room,” and an underground studio shaped like a tiger.

Bjarne Melgaard, <i>Untitled</i> (2017–18). Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Bjarne Melgaard, Untitled (2017–18). Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

A more conventional painting show—at least by this artist’s standards—will open on February 23 at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in London. “Bodyparty (Substance Paintings)” features 14 colorful square paintings, each depicting a combination of scrawling Norwegian words and alien-like cartoon characters.

Bodyparty (Substance Paintings)” will be presented at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, 37 Dover Street, London. “Life Killed My Chihuahua” can be seen on the gallery’s Instagram, @thaddaeusropac. Both exhibitions open February 23, and will be on view through March 31.


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