Border…and other Lines
3 June – 16 July 2023
Opening on Saturday 3 June, 3 – 7pm
|Jacqueline de Jong‘s third solo exhibition at Dürst Britt & Mayhew brings together a series of large-scale paintings made between February 2022 and May 2023.
‘Idlib in the Snow’, a painting completed at the beginning of 2022, marks the transition from a series of works about one catastrophic event, the refugee crisis in Syria, to another: the war in Ukraine. The refugee tents in Idlib at Syria’s border are covered with snow, which, in hindsight, can be seen as a dark omen of the crises that would unfold further north, in Ukraine. The canvasses that follow carry the names of Ukrainian cities that, over the course of the last year, have become battlegrounds. Alongside the works dedicated to the war in Ukraine, two paintings with refugees return, as this catastrophe continues to unfold as well. Her most recent painting, Disasters, brings the two subject matters together.
Reflecting De Jong’s working process, the exhibition also includes works less directly related to political events. De Jong refers to them as “loose works.” They function as playgrounds or sketchbooks developed alongside the more reality-bound paintings. These imaginative works make no direct references to contemporary political realities and are instead populated by De Jong’s signature humanoid creatures – skeletons, monsters, animal-human hybrids – in chaotic distribution, equal parts dangerous, dark, deadly and erotic.
Throughout her oeuvre, many of De Jong’s works have absorbed moments of crisis and terror, moments in which order has dissolved and something bigger, more terrifying has taken over. Wars have been frequent subjects and continue to haunt De Jong’s imagination as terrifying, all-consuming machines that leave the humans forced to go through them in chaos and disarray.
Figure and ground tumble, perspectives collapse and flames flare up between rubble and ruins; buildings fall, and figures are squeezed into the diminishing spaces between them. The human bodies depicted have become pliable, they are thrown around, and when they appear as a mass or in groups – as they often do in the works that refer to the refugee crisis – their bodies are stacked and packed tightly, piled on top of each other. They are pushed and pulled, mangled and thrown away, degraded to material. Lines are crossed here, in the most dehumanizing ways.
Text by Melanie Bühler, Senior Curator at Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland
|Jacqueline de Jong (b. 1939, Hengelo, The Netherlands) is widely known for her contribution to the European avant-garde of the 1960s. Throughout a career spanning six decades her work has explored the violence, banality, eroticism and humour of human interaction. Painting is the foundation of her practice, which also encompasses drawing, sculpture, printmaking, jewellery and artist books.
In the 1960s she became involved with the radical artists and thinkers of the time, most notably with the Situationist International (SI) and Gruppe SPUR. When de Jong was excluded from the SI, along with the other visual artists, she founded The Situationist Times. Hailed as one of the most important and experimental journals of its time, the publication offered opportunity for collaboration between writers, poets and visual artists. As editor and publisher, she produced six issues between 1962 and 1967. In 1968 she marched with the students in Paris, printing artist posters in support of the movement.
The artist’s painting practice is diverse: declining to progress in a linear fashion, she often doubles back and revisits formal and conceptual concerns. Early works from the 1960s include expressive abstraction, the violent and humorous Accidental Paintings and Suicidal Paintings series, and the witty and erotic Private Lives of the Cosmonauts. Themes of sexual desire, war and violence continue throughout, with the Série Noire of 1980s, the Paysages Dramatiques and paintings of the 1990s that address war more explicitly. During the 2010s, de Jong took inspiration from the monstrous shapes of overgrown potatoes to explore the humorous and grotesque side of nature whilst experimenting with new materials and photographic printing. Her most recent work returns to oil painting and a re-examination of early themes that have new resonance in the present day.
Work by De Jong is held in private and public collections including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, CNAP France, Musée les Abattoirs, Toulouse, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum Jorn, Silkeborg; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo; Kunstmuseum Göteborg; MCCA Toronto; MONA, Tasmania; Rachofsky Collection, Dallas; Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem; Museum Arnhem; Cobra Museum for Modern Art, Amstelveen.
On 30 May 2023 Jacqueline de Jong was awarded the prestigious title of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by François Alabrune, French Ambassador to The Netherlands
Dürst Britt & Mayhew
Van Limburg Stirumstraat 47
2515 PB Den Haag
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Thursday – Sunday, 12 – 6pm and by appointment