Jonathan Meese ((Tim Van Laere Gallery)
Tim Van Laere Books, 2022
This catalog was published on the occasion of SELF PORTRAITS AND NUDES (GESAMTKUNSTWERK), Jonathan Meese’s fifth solo exhibition at the gallery.
Jonathan Meese (°1970 Tokyo, lives and works in Berlin and Hamburg) is renowned for his multi-faceted work, including wildly exuberant paintings, installations, ecstatic performances and a powerful body of sculptures in a variety of media. Apparently effortlessly, he has developed in all genres an independent and at the same time unique vocabulary that gives his work a variety, visual energy and quality which, according to Robert Fleck, has been unheard of since Picasso. Meese creates an expansive personal mythology, which also features characters inspired by history, legends and science fiction. Throughout his works you can find a not easily decodable system of signs/badges, neologisms, symbols, and figurative allusions to all types of power seekers, mythical personages and geniuses of history, stars and starlets of pop culture, or fictional heroes of novels and films. All of Meese’s works share a humor tending towards the grotesque, as well as a powerful, original creative will. Both are driven and supported by a striving for a rule of art, the dictatorship of art. What is meant here is the development of a new world order where art is the legislative power, and free play the foundation of all life and creation.This utopian approach runs like a leitmotif through all his works and brings his individual parts of the oeuvre together to form the Jonathan Meese Gesamtkunstwerk. He does not aim at anarchy, but rather the rule of metabolic necessity: ‘Art is total play.’
In this exhibition, Meese presents a new body of works, which capture the interplay of interior and exterior worlds, combining the phantasmagoria of the imagination with the bric-à-brac of mundane reality. To him, art is osmosis. His paintings are filled with photosynthesis and mimicry, which allows us to enter the counter world. The self portraits and nudes point out that all self portraits are nude and all nudes are self portraits. Within the self portraits you can find the childhood of everything, with the ultimate self portrait being the embryo. According to Meese this exhibition celebrates “the birth of the Gesamtkunstwerk”. This theme is also visualized in the large scale painting TOTAL RECALL (THE R.I.P.-DIDDLOIDEN ARE BACK TO FIGHT THE “KAMPF UM KUNST (BIRTH OF GESAMTKUNSTWERK)). With this exhibition, he pays hommage to evolution, nature, love, power, collage, abstraction, animalism, and art itself. Meese celebrates especially the following artists and “Spielkinder”: Van Gogh, Fidus, Warhol, Dali, Picasso, Balthus, Barbarella, Pippi Longstocking, and Moominism.