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Jonathan Meese

Jonathan Meese was born 1970 in Tokyo. His father is Welsh and his mother is German. As a child, he moved to Germany with his mother. During the years 1995-1998, Jonathan Meese attended Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Hamburg, but never completed his studies.
 
At first glance, Jonathan Meese’s art seems fierce, wild, and chaotic. The colour appears to have been thrown onto the canvas or squeezed directly from the tube in thick blobs. Often, the pictures have objects affixed to them as e.g. the German Iron Cross and coins. Symbols such as the swastika and the three orange Adidas-stripes also find their way to the canvas.
 
An Adidas zip top is among the artist’s favourite items of clothing and the stripes, therefore, is a reference to the artist himself who, incidentally, figures repeatedly as the main character in the pictures. Also, elements from popular culture tend to pop up in his works such as the super villain, Dr. Fu Manchu, or a Prussian soldier readily identifiable from films and caricatures. In addition to this, all sorts of words and sentences have been scribbled across the pictures.
 
The numerous and various references seem, at first, like a shambles. What is this actually about? Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys? Should you take it all at face value? Or is it just one big joke? There is method in the madness, however. Familiar norms and values are distorted by Jonathan Meese to create absurd and morbid mirror images of our world.
 
Jonathan Meese’s universe is filled with humour and irony, not always placing him in the most flattering light. At the same time, he stretches the artistic mode of expression to its limits by virtue of his clear and fierce physicality and his dynamic play with symbols, identity, and the role of the artist. He continually challenges himself and, not least, us and our understanding of the aims and instruments of art. If you invest some time in his works, you will discover certain traditional features in Jonathan Meese’s art.
 
Jonathan Meese is not a political artist in the usual sense. His works are actions in which he demonstrates that art possesses an inherently creative and liberating potential for the individual. Jonathan Meese refers, not surprisingly, to this positive intention in ambiguous terms such as the ‘Dictatorship of Art’.
 
Jonathan Meese has, on several occasions, collaborated with the Danish artist, Tal R, who is also represented in Holstebro Kunstmuseum’s collection. In 2005, the total installation ’MOTHER’ was created jointly by the two artists in the X-room at the National Gallery of Denmark. In addition to Holstebro, works by Jonathan Meese can be seen at the National Gallery of Denmark and Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art.
Jonathan Meese, photography Jan Bauer. Net / Courtesy Jonathan Meese. Com