Jonathan Meese

Germany, 1970

Graduated from the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste, Hamburg (Prof. Franz Erhard Walther) in 1998.

Jonathan Meese (1970) is a hugely respected contemporary painter, sculptor, performance and installation artist living and working in Germany. A self-proclaimed cultural exorcist, he adopts a shamanistic role in his performances, sculptures and paintings, channeling his version of a chaotic zeitgeist. He references comic books, horror films, medieval crusades and outsider art, merging these into a compendium of morality and epic failure. In his paintings, clear-cut roles of good vs. evil are confused, ironic propaganda is served up with homebrew conviction and malevolent knaves become heroes of the disenfranchised. Appropriating historical and cultural references, Meese parodies his own symbolism. His paintings adopt the theatrical quality of opera, with pretend realms of decadence and absurdity, where form and idea become easily detached and reassembled.

In his self-portraits, Meese exaggerates his real-life ‘wild-man’ image, continuously mutating through a cast of characters from demons to divas.  He explores potential narratives on the nature of power and conspiracy, subverting traditional mythological steroetypes . Meese styles himself as a cult guru, both symptom and cure of a corrupted belief system. His narrative works play out B-movie fantasies in feudal tableaux, hailing religion and politics as punk-style forgeries. Collectively Meese’s works operate as stories, feeding the fictional legacy of the artist as an immortal entity.

With an amateur aesthetic and sublime simplicity, Meese stages his expressionism as adolescent malice, embracing individualism and anarchy. With the principles of science fiction, he envisions the future as a post-Armageddon landscape, where primitivism is embraced as the acceptable and rational social solution.

Selected solo exhibitions

Spezialbilder, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2004) | The Boiler Room, Saatchi Gallery, London Dommuseum Salzburg (2004) | Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2004), Modern Art, London (2003) | Young Americans, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2002) | Love, Galerie Ascan Crone, Hamburg (2002) | Uhrwerk Moderne Zeiten, Schloss Balmoral, Bad Ems (2002) | Ernte, Galerie Karlheinz Meyer, Karlsruhe (2002) | Revolution, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover (2002) | L`Amour, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris (2002) | Jonathan Meese, Leo Koenig Inc., New York (2001) | Galerie Christian Nagel, Köln (2000) | The return of doctor Cyclops, Paolo Curti & Co., Mailand(2000).

Selected group exhibitions

Deutschemalereizweitausendrei, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2003) | Grotesk!, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2003) | Warum!, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2003) | Garden Landscape Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Kloster Willebadessen, Willebadessen (2002) | Private Mythen, Galerie Sabine Knust, München (2002) | Hossa, Centro Cultural Andratx, Mallorca (2002) | Jonathan Meese, Centre D`Art Contemporain, Fribourg (2001) | Ziviler Ungehorsam, Zeitgenössische Kunst aus der Sammlung Falckenberg, Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2001) | Musterkarte, Galerie Heinrich Ehrhardt, Madrid (2001).