Ragnar attended a rural peripatetic school, then studied at the Sports College in Haukadalur. He lived for some years at Öndverðarnes in south Iceland, haymaking in summer, and working as a fisherman on the south coast during the winter. After his father died an accident in 1926, Ragnar ran his mother’s farm. In 1938 he moved to Reykjavík, where he worked as a carpenter and qualified as a builder.
In 1958 Ragnar started to make works of art from reinforced concrete, which he painted and displayed in his garden in the Reykjavík suburbs. The works made an immediate impresison on passers-by, and some people were offended by the directness of their expression. The artist’s works, inspired by myth and folklore, depict the confrontation between good and evil. The embody the workmanship of a rural life that was vanishing, and the outspokenness of modern times.
Ragnar Bjarnason’s works of art are some of the best and most avant-garde in Icelandic folk art, shaped with professional skill and familiarity with materials; they are dynamic in their space, and it is all but impossible to pass them by without feeling and expressing a view about them.