Jonathan Meese draws inspiration from German Expressionism – a movement dominated by the horrors of war and social discontent. The movement was also concerned with the unique vision of the artist; a conception of artist-as-diviner that Meese readily embraces.
Meese is a self-proclaimed cultural exorcist. In his performances, sculptures and paintings he adopts a shamanistic role, schizophrenically channeling all manner of chaotic zeitgeist and psycho/media debris. In his self-portraits, Meese exaggerates his real-life ‘wild-man’ features (but always in an Adidas track suit and with his mother in tow). His image continuously mutates through a cast of characters – from demons to divas and superheroes, developing a growing discourse and diktat on the the nature of power, corruption and contemporary mythology.
Grizedale's relationship with Jonathan has developed in tandem with the curatorial residency of fellow German Robert Eikmeyer in 2005.Their ongoing dialogue with us proposes to make a project which connects the emancipatory power of art with the creation of totalitarian regimes, whether that be Hitler, Ruskin or Disney.
Jonathan was due to perform as part of 'Agrifashionista' until the A Foundation pulled the plug the on the project three weeks before it went live, due to "internal difficulties".
The poster for Agrifashionista was due to feature Jonathan and Ben Sadler of Juneau Projects (who often gets mistaken for Meese by rich collectors) but as he cancelled, GA Director Adam Sutherland stood in for Meese complete with hairy wig. The photo for the poster was shot by arch fashion snapper Donald Milne and featured the two Grizedale Tamworth pigs bred by the director of Manchester’s Chinese Arts Centre.
We managed to re-configure the project as a live broadcast in June 2009 from Vittoriale degli Italiani, the museum to the Italian futurist poet Gabriel d’Ununzio on the Gardone Riviera. You can listen to it and read more here.