15 June – 18 August 2019
Friday, 14 June 2019 at 7 pm
Access via Westfälischen Kunstverein, Rothenburg 30,
|Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am-7 pm
Jonas Justen (b. 1993, Zell/Moselle) often plays with interior elements – fittings and furnishings, ideas of the homely and the private sphere, places of personal refuge. In the process, he manages to go beyond a purely formal appropriation and renders these references palpable in phenomenological terms. He adopts the forms, feel and functions of everyday furniture or clothing, yet never strays far from the human body and subtle feelings and perceptions. Justen's sculptures and wall art recall everyday objects such as tables, chairs, lamps or upholstery; they often also contain found objects which would normally be part of such items of furniture. On a purely spatial level, we know intuitively therefore how our bodies relate to these objects, but also importantly how these objects, by virtue of our familiarity with their materials and shapes, tend to evoke memories, or engender cosy, homely, sentimental or sometimes even oppressive emotions. Faced with the sterile, intimidating proportions of this exhibition room, the title of the exhibition best sums up Justen's initial reaction to such a difficult architectural space: Plötzlich Vorstand (Sudden Prominence). How does one deal with a space endowed with a specific function and set role? Display windows illuminated night and day showcasing contemporary art, a stage that positively demands very big gestures. Jonas Justen has covered the windows and thus prevented an intrusive view from outside. A silk drape placed in the corner of the room also alludes to this moment of concealment. As a result, the internal space is suffused with a subdued light as the soft rays of sunlight from outside are deflected by the drapes, an effect which is further emphasised by his use of coloured gels for the fluorescent tube lighting. Beside these lavender-coloured fluorescent lamps, lavender scent infuses the room with a musty-sweet aroma. Bone glue used in three of Justen's works contributes a further characteristic smell to the overall olfactory impression. However, he doesn't deploy the glue as a primer or adhesive agent, but as impasto paint on canvas and wood. In addition to the use of light and smell, sculptural elements, fabric works and paintings furnish the exhibition space. These components share a certain sense of humour and a relation to the human figure in one way or another: sometimes as a blank space that makes us think of the fabric as clothing or cushions; as a counterpart, who looks at us head on, like the moderator in the crowd in "RAN", or as a generalised placeholder, like the abstracted depiction of a person in the triptych Alte Maschen (Old Tricks). It has been borrowed from a Wikihow video that teaches us everyday tasks, in this instance learning to drive.
We encounter works that at times are a mirror and at times a gap we are supposed to fill in. Justen's space lures us with its disjunctive ambience of homely restraint and the abjection that inhabits it, flashing garishly forth time and again. It is best summed up in Justen's own words: "These media are sometimes warm sometimes cold, sometimes shiny and sometimes matt; there's a sweet smell or a bit of a stink, a ballooning out followed by a contraction, so life is pretty neat all in all."
Jonas Justen studied philosophy at the University of Vienna and photography at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. He lives and works in Essen.
The exhibition is curated by Jenni Henke, Marie Meeth and Kristina Scepanski.
Photo: LWL/Hanna Neander
Friday, 9 August 2019 at 8 pm
RADAR is an exhibition format devised by the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur and Westfälischer Kunstverein. Its aim is to showcase young, less well-known artists whose striking work puts them on the "radar". The works on show provide a glimpse into the work currently being undertaken by the featured artists.