Magazine article Artforum International

Jonathan Meese: Tim Van Laere Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Jonathan Meese: Tim Van Laere Gallery

Article excerpt

Jonathan Meese is nothing if not hyper-energetic. For his most recent exhibition, the German artist covered nearly all the available wall space with no fewer than twenty paintings, thirty-three drawings, and a thirteen-page manifesto on what art is, what it isn't, and what it should be. What's more, almost everything in "Spitzenmeesige Women (Schniddeldiddelson)"--the nonsense title of this exhibition, like those of many of the individual works, is untranslatable despite incorporating recognizable bits of German and English--was produced this year. This overwhelming assemblage resembled, or can be best described as, an explosion, a figurative variation on action painting. Often, the paint looks as if it was kneaded with the artist's hands into the canvas. This method, in combination with a vivacious and broad spectrum of colors, allowed the paintings to convey the energy with which Meese produced them.

In the past, Meese's themes have often been taken from history. This show presented a more personal side, exploring his fascination with women such as the actor Scarlett Johansson, the iconic Barbarella as played by Jane Fonda, Nabokov's Lolita, English supermodel Cara Delevingne, and, last but not least, the artist's mother. One of the many highlights was bubbel de babe, pull pulli-pull-pullsns' volle pulle, 2014-15, a huge work composed of three panels, displaying all of Meese's current obsessions. The strawberries we see in this and some of the other paintings stand for femininity, according to Meese; blazoned across the painting in block letters are the inscriptions erz-parsifal's mutterz (Archmother of Parsifal) and cara de large. Meese's fascination with Delevingne might not come as a total surprise if you know that this glamorous woman is famous for making fun of herself, just as Meese does--in her case by posing with the craziest grimaces, which go viral around the world. …

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