artist of the day #14: Jonathan Meese

I think it is healthy to have some level of narcissism if you want to become an accomplished artist. But how much is the correct amount? And with something as ever changing as art, can there even be a specific rule? Well this is a question that occurred to me when I saw this very amusing installation by multi-media artist Jonathan Meese. I am not entirely sure if this narcissism was a theme in his work, but he does certainly seem to enjoy hanging pictures of himself everywhere. This exhibit felt like it was one part mock propaganda, one part cult initiation, and one part torture chamber.

With the fact that there was so much going on in these rooms and that much of it was in German, its hard to decipher a specific message, if one even exists. But this work did pass that test about good art I mentioned in an earlier post, it made me smile. It’s somewhat silly, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s messy, scattered, and unpolished. All of which I find somewhat comforting after I have just gone into three galleries in a row that are nothing but giant white walls and a few nicely framed, but wholly uninteresting abstract paintings.

There are a few recurring themes and imagery found in his work. He seems to like to use the colors red, black, and white quite often. He seems to add a lot of iron crosses to various parts of his work. And he seems to really like the stripes from his Adidas track jacket. What he is trying to say with all of this, I am not quite sure, but it does offer some sense of uniformity to what is other wise fairly chaotic.

Meese is also known, if not better known, for being a performance artist. I watched a few and it definitely plays to the comedic aspect of his work. Again, it makes me smile, therefore it is good. I feel like he is definitely an agent of artistic chaos that is much needed in today’s world.


Some vids:


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