Jonas Burgert
Oil on canvas
98 x 80 cm

24 Oct 2006, 6 – 9 pm


Jonas Burgert’s large-scale paintings dazzle with complex narrative scenes, subtly distorted perspectives and a fearless exposure to pathos. In this, his first solo exhibition, Burgert presents a new body of work at the Produzentengalerie Hamburg, a collection which sees single figures, groups and portraits assembled in a variety of formats and startlingly colourful atmospheres. Among other themes encircled by Burgert, a few large upright formats resurrect mythically-symbolic sites: Täufer (2006), for example, shows a scene on the steps of an ancient pyramid. Built up from a black ground, the illusion of spatial depth contrasts with the surface superficiality of the dripping trail of toxic turquoise, the latter eventually revealing itself to be the secret core of the painting. Alternately, in Zeuge (2006), the spatial dimension emerges from a light ground and the emphatic, electrified atmosphere is conveyed by the formal composition while both sceneries tell of a lost spirituality. A surprisingly new spectrum of motifs is revealed
in the two large-format landscape/interior works Fluchtversuch (2006) and Begegner (2006). For the first time Burgert’s work features domestic settings: two living-rooms are represented in a disastrous, post-apocalyptic state. Within this common domestic space, the interior decor has been systematically, incrementally dismantled and transformed into a space radiating with surreal ambience. In ‘Fluchtversuch’ the vandalized room opens towards the viewer. Through an open door at the room’s rear, a thief can be seen running away and guiltily glimpsing backwards at the room and the onlooker; his hands and arms are covered in a mysterious blue liquid—to which he seemingly helped himself. In Begegner the room is fully dominated by an oversized, larger-than-life squatting figure, whose naked skin is covered with chequered pattern. Here the severe lines defining the pattern contrast dramatically with the soft and awkward infantile shape filling the room. Everyday objects—radios, television sets, lamps, furniture, broken floorboards—define the character of the interior space, and two different expanses of colour are interspersed by the artists’ tiny alter egos, looking on skeptically at the entire scene. These two interiors present themselves in a distinctively vertical format, unusual in Burgert’s oeuvre. Works like Täufer (2006), Zeuge (2006),  Fürst (2006), on the other hand, are thematically charged with a sublimity that counters viewers’ standard visual approach to interiors. Here several medium format canvases are dominated by a few central figures on light neutral grounds (Fürst, Staub, o.T.) rendered in a way that attests to Burgert’s intense exploration of surfaces and the generation of painterly depth without resorting to illusionistic perspective. By working in layers, building up light tones from a dark base in the manner of the old masters, Burgert creates colour climates which have become characteristic of his work. These climates can at times be as subtle as the contrast of cold and warmth in ‘Fürst’ or descried in the densely built black background in Täufer. Through the use of such techniques, Burgert ventures on an art historical mission that then leads the viewer back to the present through the masterful and shocking use of a rich turquoise. With an abundance of motifs and intertwining allegories, Jonas Burgert establishes a stage simultaneously for a investigation of a lively art history and a confident display of painterly

Text: Anna-Catharina Gebbers