MALAGA.- The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga
is presenting the first solo exhibition in Spain of the work of Jonathan Monk. Entitled COLOURS, SHAPES, WORDS (pink, blue, square, circle, etc.) and commissioned by Fernando Francés, it includes sculptures, neons, paintings, drawings and photographs. Monks work is notable for his use of a wide variety of materials. In some cases the artist bases himself on his own personal experiences while in others he reinterprets the work of other artists who are icons of Conceptual and Minimalist art of the 1960s and 1970s. Jonathan Monk currently lives and works in Berlin. This exhibition, which is one of the events organised to mark the tenth anniversary of the CAC Málaga (2003-2013), has benefited from the support of the British Council.
I have always thought that art revolves around ideas and the idea of an original and a copy are clearly two very different things, explains Jonathan Monk (born Leicester, UK, 1969). In COLOURS, SHAPES, WORDS (pink, blue, square, circle, etc.) this British artist explores and experiments with the concept of the appropriation and reinterpretation of works by iconic artists of the 1960s and 1970s, while adding to them the mark of his own particular experience. The present exhibition comprises around thirty works that offer a multidisciplinary survey of Monks recent output.
For Fernando Francés, Director of the CAC Málaga, The texts, words and forms to be seen in his neon pieces encourage questions and ideas that remain floating in the air as dispersed thoughts in the exhibition space (Do Not Pay More than $80,000 of 2009) or which enclose a story or childhood memory in a work consisting of a photograph and a word in neon (A Short Story Translated by My Mother & Milk (Barbecue) of 2008). Once again, these intimate childhood memories return to the present and are on display in an exhibition space, in full few of everyone. The roundabout of emotions does not stop for any viewer who contemplates the work of Jonathan Monk, given that the visitor will undoubtedly rediscover his or her own experiences and freely and openly share them with the artist. This ability to allow ourselves to be carried away and succumb to provocation is the most playful and amusing side of art and one that is absolutely evident in the present exhibition. Viewers need to be prepared to get on the fairground ride of their own lives.
Monk offers an exhaustive analysis of each aspect of the creative process. This aspect has the same importance as the final result: between the moment when the artist has the idea until the time when the invitations to the inauguration are sent out, a series of situations and events take place that Monk captures and portrays. He deconstructs these moments and studies them in great detail while also recreating them, as we see in watercolours such as Trying to imagine the colour of my brain whilst painting trying to imagine the colour of my brain (2000). Another characteristic feature of his work is the presence of visual language and irony, which he employs in a notably direct manner. In each work the artist aims to summarise what he wants to say through the words that give the work its name, leaving the final interpretation to the viewers imagination, as we see, for example, in Levitating Reclining Nude (2009).
The echoes of works by other artists, particularly by iconic figures of the conceptualist trends of the 1960s and 1970s, are the principal theme of other works that can also be seen at the CAC Málaga. Monk often makes use of works by artists such Sol LeWitt, Ed Ruscha, Duchamp, Jeff Koons and Lawrence Weiner, of whom the latter designed the front cover of the present catalogue. These references may come about through the use of the original work, as in Deflated Sculpture No. 1 (2009), based on Jeff Koonss sculpture Rabbit, or through the construction of a symbolic game that directly refers to those artists, as in the neon installation The Two Os in Koons Used as Eyes 3-d version (2010).
Another source of inspiration for Monk is his own memories. The fact that when he was a child his parents did not own a television set undoubtedly influenced him and books thus became his principal form of entertainment. As he got older he also began to collect them and now possesses a large number. Monks curiosity and imagination was aroused from an early age. Other works are based on everyday objects from his normal surrounding that have caught his attention and which are transformed into works of art, such as Using my daughters coloured pencils to find the colour of my mothers lips (2005).
Another feature that defines Jonathan Monks works is his regular collaboration with other artists. As noted above, the front cover of this catalogue has been designed by Lawrence Weiner, while he has also worked in the past with David Shrigley and Douglas Gordon.
Jonathan Monk was born in Leicester (UK) in 1969. He obtained a BA in Fine Arts at Leicester Polytechnic in 1988 then an MA in the same subject at the Glasgow School of Art in 1991. Among the artists most important exhibition are those he has held at the Lisson Gallery in Milan, (2013), the Centre dedition contemporaine in Geneva (2013); Yvon Lambert in Paris (2013, 2011); Meyer Riegger in Berlin (2012, 2010); Eastside Projects in Birmingham (2011); Casey Kaplan Gallery in New York (2011,2009); Dvir Gallery in Tel Aviv (2011, 2010); Lisson Gallery in London (2010, 2009); Morra Greco in Naples (2009); Artpace in San Antonio (2009); the Nicolai Wallner Gallery in Copenhagen (2011, 2009); the Palais de Tokyo and Musée dart Moderne in Paris (2008) and at The Tramway in Glasgow (2008). Notable group shows in which he has participated include those at Andreas Huber in Vienna (2012); Thaddeus Ropac in Paris (2012); Frutta Gallery in Rome (2012); CCA Wattis in San Francisco (2012); the South London Gallery in London (2012); Boers-Li Gallery in Beijing (2012); Centre of Contemporary, Torun (2012; Artspace in New York, Crate Studio and Project Space in Kent (2011) and Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York (2011).
In 2012 Monk was awarded the prize given by Les Quartier des Bains, a Geneva-based organisation that groups together international contemporary galleries and institutions. In addition to the present solo exhibition at the CAC Málaga, another is scheduled for the Dallas Contemporary in Texas.