Afternoon Play by Jonathan Joubert1. May - 24. May 14 / ended Zimmer Stewart Gallery
Afternoon Play by Jonathan Joubert
Recently graduated with an MA from the RCA Jonathan Joubert returns to the gallery to show new work since his last here in 2006.
The characters in “Afternoon Play” are mother and son, or a series of mothers and sons.
Can painting be explored in a literary way? If so, using the grammar of painting, can a painter introduce his universe as a playwright does?
Should the painter use this approach, he then has access to an open field of narrative and imagination that the &quot;-isms&quot; of the late 20th century appear to have closed down. To paint a portrait today is a trivial irrelevance, hold up a mirror instead, as in any case the viewer is only ever looking at (reading the work) subjectively as a version of herself or himself.
However, Joubert is intrigued by the idea of creating a large, epic almost operatic body of paintings, where he has free rein deliberately to fill a fictional world with characters, in the manner of the novelist or playwright. The interactions of characters and plot may be hinted at but are largely left for the viewer to perform and extrude upon.
The work on Show in 'Afternoon Play' at Zimmer Stewart Gallery is the beginnings of a two year exploration that the artist hopes will establish the concept and give a feel for the territory that he wants to explore.
To further explain, Jonathan says "My painted heads come mainly from studies made from sculptures of european antiquity. These are then further transformed by repeated drawings from my own drawings in order to discover something new in each source. The concatenation of abstract 'scene setters' and highly coloured portraits attempt to invoke a kind of ‘Future Antique’, a world where the rogues and heroes of antiquity, filtered through the artist’s hand, congregate mysteriously."
The textures, rents, fissure and varied surfaces on the boards reflect the ruination of Joubert's sources, and his pleasure in these broken thousand year old sculptures. Within the context of the concept, avoiding too much earnestness, each work is an attempt to evoke time, wear, an immense cultural inheritance and the weight of History.
Act 1, Scene 1
Early Summer. Afternoon.
The remote and vast ruins of an ancient villa on a cliff edge overlooking the sea. Several characters gather in its large and meticulously kept courtyard garden where several fountains play. There is music, something electronic, Japanese synth pop, very lightly and waves can be heard crashing faintly in the distance.
[Oil on gessoed linen laid over board. 60 x 40cm, Painted bronze figure. Oil on gessoed plinth.]
Act 1, Scene 2
Two Mothers in heated discussion by a fountain. A Son listens on furtively.
[Various materials including neon gas, glass, oil on board. Diptych]
A principal concern in Joubert’s work is “Time” and the challenge of rendering the expanse of human history. Part of this exploration for Joubert has always contained the portrait, the human face as a repository for anxieties, evidence of the passage of time and a site of psychic trauma.
Jonathan Joubert has studied at Chelsea College of Art, Central St Martins College of Art (Byam Shaw) and graduated with an MA in Fine Art Painting at The Royal College of art in 2011. He was awarded the OUTSET studio award on graduation in 2011.
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