Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson will return to Wales to present a brand-new performance piece, The Sky in a Room, co-commissioned by Artes Mundi and National Museum Wales. The exciting performance will see a series of revolving organists performing the 1959 hit song “Il Cielo In Una Stanza” (The Sky in a Room) on the 1774 Sir Watkins Williams Wynn organ, and will run from 3 February to 11 March at National Museum Cardiff.
In 2015, following his participation in the Artes Mundi 6 exhibition, the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson was awarded the £30,000 Derek Williams Trust purchase award, which enables National Museum of Wales to purchase artworks by Artes Mundi shortlisted artists. The purchase was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Derek Williams Trust and the ArtFund, and will become part of Wales’s contemporary art collection at National Museum Cardiff which includes works by Rodin, Bridget Riley, Monet and Lucien Freud. This is the first time that a work by Ragnar Kjartansson has been commissioned for a UK public collection.
This exciting new commission will merge historical and contemporary art forms in a space where the visitor becomes witness to a dreamlike, surreal, and sometimes humorous environment typical of Kjartansson’s practice. Centred on the 1774 Sir Watkin Williams Wynn’s organ, a key feature of National Museum Cardiff’s 18th century British art gallery, the performance will include the removal of the full collection of paintings, exposing the ornately patterned light-blue wall fabric and isolating the organ and the performer.