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Jonathan Meese's "Revolution of Art" at CAC Málaga in Spain
Jonathan Meese, "Meine Fratze ist harmloser als meine Katze" (die freundlichste DIKTATUR), 2006. Oil, mixed media on canvas, 365 x 600.5 x 4.2 cm (3 panels).

MALAGA.- CAC Málaga is presenting the biggest exhibition ever to be held in Spain by Jonathan Meese, an artist whose intention is to question and reflect on art and its actors, or on what he describes as the “Dictatorship of Art”, where power falls neither to the artist nor to the museum, but to art as an autonomous entity. Jonathan Meese has described himself as a “cultural exorcist”; although he draws on German Expressionism as a source of inspiration, it is not easy to slot him into any kind of artistic current. Painting, collages, photographs, a performance, sculptures and a set of previously unexhibited ceramics are all part of Meese’s scenographic offering at CAC Málaga.

Obsession, chaos, disconcertment, decadence and disenchantment with religion are some of the stances that Jonathan Meese adopts in order to question reality, resorting to figurative allusions to historical German characters like Wagner and Hitler, to Hollywood actors and actresses, and to comics and horror films. He manages to take his mental resistance to unsuspected heights and imbues his work with the horrors of war, social discontentment and, in short, the history of German art. In his works, Meese almost obsessively repeats certain topics and motifs. For the general public and critics alike, these cause an initial sense of rejection, unease and controversy.

CAC Málaga is presenting the biggest exhibition ever to be held in Spain by Jonathan Meese; an installation designed specifically for Spaces 2 and 5 of the Centre brings together a broad selection of works, including a set of ceramics being shown for the very first time.

In his works, Meese assumes different attitudes – almost as if possessed by the devil – and takes them into the realm of the grotesque and the ridiculous. Using self-portraits as an essential part of his work, as can be seen in the “Dr Gomilk” series of collages and photographs, Meese takes on multiple personalities.

His large format paintings are done with great resolve and power. The pictures are produced very quickly: the way they are contemplated is the way the artist wants them to be contemplated. In addition, a group of performances will be showed; one of them filmed in his studio on 15 March 2010 is being premiered at CAC Málaga.

The CAC Málaga exhibition brings together a broad and varied selection of works produced over the last decade, as well as a set of photographs taken in 1998, which provide an insight into his work at that time. There is also a manifesto written by the artist especially for the exhibition – and included in the catalogue – reflecting the disorder, accumulation and excess defining Meese’s oeuvre. In the manifesto we can find citations that, while appearing to be contradictory, are crucial to our understanding of his work: “The ‘Revolution of Art’ is inalienable, / the ‘Dictatorship of Art’ is the only / alternative: ONLY ART may reign…/ No human, no god and no religion / may exercise power, therefore: POWER TO ART”

His art moves between extremes: sometimes he is Dr Jekyll and sometimes he is Mr Hyde; sometimes, the hero and later the victim. In a contradictory way, the radical pessimism that typifies him provides him with a positive direction in the present. The conception of art as the only road towards “salvation”, the untiring quest for complicity with the viewer to share the chaos and disaster that precedes a new era.

Jonathan Meese (Tokyo, 1970) became known on the international scene after the first Berlin Biennale in 1998, where several artists came together under the banner of “new activism”, which recovered the transgressive tradition of contemporary German currents (Anselm Kiefer and Georg Baselitz, for example) and of Viennese Actionism. He and other renowned artist friends like Daniel Richter and Tal R, whose works have already been exhibited at the Centre and with whom he has participated in a number of group exhibitions (Mor, 2006, a video that was part of Tal R’s “Teenager Beach” at CAC Málaga), share the view of art becoming independent from human interests and passions.

According to Fernando Francés, CAC Málaga’s Director, “In his baroque, overwhelming work, which is occasionally over the top and garish, Jonathan Meese explores the function of art, of politics and of ideological systems, and also of sex and of rubbish, of beauty and of scatology. These are some topics that he likes to write about in manifestos of visual and pictorial poetry, in collages of accumulated ideas. Meese forms part of an eccentric and complex imaginary world that allows his ideas to reach unsuspected heights in every project.”

“3 x C = CIRCUSSYS CERAMICUSSUS CALIGOLOSSOZ (Once upon a time in Fort Knoxoz)”, the title of Jonathan Meese’s exhibition, packs in the double meaning, satire and sense of humour that characterises Jonathan Meese’s work and is a great opportunity to enjoy what one of the leading lights of German art today has to offer. CAC Málaga, through Meese’s particular view of the world, invites everyone to join the burgeoning group of followers of this revolutionary artist, who will certainly not leave anyone indifferent!

CAC Málaga | Jonathan Meese | "Revolution of Art" |

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