Gudjon Bjarnason: Sculpture Goes Boom

Icelandic sculptor Gudjon Bjarnason

Before the era of car bombs and IEDs, Icelandic-born sculptor Gudjon Bjarnason began using high explosives to create unorthodox shapes and forms in his work. He was looking for unexpected dimensions to use in his architectural designs for unconventional houses. A maquette he created for a house he’s planning has a front entrance that looks as if it’s been ripped away by a tornado.

“I started in 1995, but now there is always a reference to 9/11 and terrorist bombings,” Bjarnason says. “And I may have started as a response to the terrorism in the world, but now the work is much more than that. There’s a certain kind of energy that comes from these forms caused by explosions. It doesn’t fit our ideas of symmetry and balance; instead, it’s the opposite, which suggests a new way of seeing.”

During a residency at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, he enlisted the aid of the San Antonio Police Department Bomb Squad to create ten new large-scale metal works for “DySTOPic ProgressiONs.” Bjarnason asked the members of the squad to do highly-controlled explosions designed to create specific effects in his compositions of welded square steel profiles, though the frayed edges and rips in the steel are the spontaneous results of the explosives.

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