Future of Art Through Jonathan Meese

March 11, 2020

As I entered the exhibition space I looked to my right. In Tim Van Laere Gallery, when you turn your back on the entree and your face to the space, right is where the wall sort of continues and welcomes you with a new work of art. I prefer to start exhibiting from one side and end up on the other. So I can tour the space with the least waste of time while making sure to not miss any work. However, if the show is engaging as this one, you end up being all over the place after one complete tour. “FIGHT: ART” writes on top of the first painting. Jonathan’s desire to fight for art is evident as I read pass the text to the figure in the middle. The gestures are so assertive. Right arm tries to reach up, touching the end of the cloth. Left hand formed in fist, comes towards the audience. It’s ready for a fight to reach the future. At least that’s what I see.

According to Jonathan Meese, artists must look to the future instead of the past. He believes that art should be the one thing that rules us. ‘The dictatorship of art’ as he said it. I can see that art dictates his life and style. His ensured brush strokes are wild, effortless. The freedom and playfulness which he defends what art should be like, are there in every layer. When you know the background of the painting; artist’s state of mind, his ideas about execution, his characteristics, it is all consistent. You can see what kind of a brain shaped this painting. Sure, the idea behind the image can also be important, but when I look at a painting… I don’t care. I can only appreciate that till some point. The very first moment when I look at an artwork belongs to me. What thrills me is the connection I make with an image which is made from a different human being. That’s art and this exhibition is a strong example of it. I look at this first painting ‘‘SWEETIE DE LARGE!’’ and layers seem to me the most effective factor. The relationship of each of them shows determination, skill and joy. It’s exciting. Somewhat challenging. I can see that he used the same type of black he used on every other. It’s a harsh black along with a harsh technique. It’s direct. It’s fast. I am glad that the tempo is bound by this rectangular shape which we call a painting. So I can keep coming back and relive it. At first glance the uneasy faces can look horrifying. Symbols are provocative but Jonathan is on such a level that you can see through those factors. They are more (or less) than what they seem. They are there to play with your mind, to question you and for you to question your own perception. I do wonder why I like this kind of imagery when Jonathan paints it. Why am I mesmerized? Can it be that this show is pushing me to break free from my prejudice created by our reality?

I generally don’t like these artificial colours right out of the tube. It’s fake and ugly. Nevertheless, as I’m looking at this ‘‘ICH BIN DAS LIEBE KUNSTSTUNKIGE!’’ using the tube as a brush and smearing the paint directly on to the cloth seems like the best way to use these colours. Then it creates its own identity which I can respect. The image is complicated. I can relate this to most of his paintings that are in this show. It’s these harsh blacks and uneasy faces again, trying to tell you something. Letting you know that they don’t care about what you might think about them. They are in their own harmony. Then you see these (provocative) symbols that you already gave up on trying to put meanings upon, actually give you comfort. Because now they are familiar, familiar in a good sense. In this particular painting there is a different familiarity, a text. Saying ‘More Than A Feeling’ which I’m sure that can represent anything, but for me it’s the song by Boston. The song which I enjoy singing the most and also fail to sing it epically, but it’s definitely an amazing way to ‘‘pump away reality’’.

My favorite: ‘‘LADY-HEIDI-HEIL-HEIDE-HEIDA-HEIDOC’’ I wish I could have bought it. I want to start selling my paintings as soon as possible so I can start buying paintings. This painting I kept coming back to. It’s plainness let’s you breathe from the rest of the series. Every little detail is spontaneous and spot on. The black on this one attracts me more than the rest because of it’s deliberate aesthetic values. How can it be this simple yet it’s taking an odd lot more time for me to look at? Other paintings in the room might have been needed but this one is just beautiful. The crucial piece of the show.

I can not really describe the next room, you have to experience it. Portraits on the wall were series of masterpieces. There are so many works in this show. It could have easily been two different exhibitions. It is a consuming process to write about these many works, yet I couldn’t stop myself. (I also didn’t know until I did it.) Sculptures outside...I’m trying hard to find the beauty of these sculptures but it’s difficult. Yet again the choice of symbols corners me like a friend forcing me to face my phobias. Statues are puking ideologies. Waterfall of ideologies… I really have to question myself and the object I’m looking at. I don’t think he is trying to show any beauty here. No. Instead, the statues are having fun gazing back at me while I question my perception. I think the statues of Jonathan Meese show his protest the best. He is sick of reality and the constraints that come with it. He wants to reach to the future when art and artist can finally be free. If along the road to this future he is going to make masterpieces like these, then I’m in.

Tomorrow is the last day of the exhibition. See this show while you can!