ALARM de ALARM (PROPAGANDA IN ALASKA) New and Recent Works by Jonathan Meese from the Collection of Adam Lindemann ’83 and Amalia Dayan
October 19 - December 14, 2008
Born in Tokyo in 1970, and raised in Germany, the English-named Meese (whose father was British) studied art at Hamburg’s Hochschule für Bildende Künste (School of Fine Arts), where he filled his abundant studio projects with materials delivered by the brimming plastic bagful, and where he began to create stage sets. Both practices continue to impact his expansive, interrelated art, which encompasses oil paintings, drawings, photographs, ceramics, bronzes, installations, videos, and performances. At those raucous events (compared by critics to performances by the Dadaists, Joseph Beuys, and the Viennese Actionists), Meese variously boxes with himself, climbs his monumental sculptures, eats sausages, salutes, shouts into megaphones, and brings his venerable mother on stage. As Meese describes his approach:
I think art is a totally open game and everything is possible and I should be ready for doing what is necessary. …Art has its own policy, its own measurement, its own love, its own taste, its own opinion. And that’s why I want to follow it. That’s all.
Meese’s forms and themes are equally outsized and profuse. His monumental figures remake the ancient Colossus of Rhodes and Great Sphinx of Giza. His lush paint strokes evoke Willem de Kooning and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His opulent, violent, sexually explicit, hallucinatory images recall the films Dr. No (1962), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Zardoz (1974), and Caligula (1980). His mythic cast of characters draws upon history and popular culture, and includes dictators Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, composer Richard Wagner, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, author and pornographer the Marquis de Sade, Revolutionary Louis de Saint-Just (guillotined during the Jacobin Terror), writer Yukio Mishima (who committed ritual suicide), and actors Klaus Kinski and Scarlett Johansson. The leading role, however, is always claimed by Meese himself.
The Mead’s temporary installation of paintings and sculpture offers a glimpse into Meese’s expressive, energetic world, and provides a context for the artist’s December 7th performance at Amherst—his first at an American college. That event features a seventeen-foot high, double-faced, phallic-bearded head of Wagner, first used in the artist’s 2005 gesamtkunstwerk (integrated musical, theatrical, and visual artwork) Jonathan Meese ist Mutter Parzival (Jonathan Meese is Mother Parsifal), performed in the scenery storeroom of Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden opera house during a five-hour performance of Wagner’s Parsifal in the main auditorium. Meese’s Amherst event, likewise, promises to be a night to remember.
The installation has been made possible through the generous support of Adam Lindemann '83 and Amalia Dayan.
Gallery Talk: Ahoi de Angst: Meese, Myth and Culture
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Public Artist's Conversation
Sunday, December 7, noon
Marquis de Fianzardoz, 2007
Mixed media, oil on canvas, 6 panels
144 x 472 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches
Mutter Parzival, 2005
204 3/4 x 189 x 145 2/3 inches