Juxtapoz Magazine – Pieter Jennes’s Rabelaisian Romp Through a Densely Populated Forest


Belgian artist Pieter Jennes‘ new exhibition When Weeds Bloom at Nino Mier Gallery is a Rabelaisian romp by a densely populated forest featuring twenty-five new paintings, home furnishings, and a flooring set up.

Previous yr in Antwerp, where by Jennes at present lives and operates, a social scene burgeoned outside the town centre. Because the pandemic pressured the closure of quite a few public collecting spots, people began congregating in the woods, exactly where land was nonetheless public. Jennes describes an invigorating mix of desperation and glee, as individuals would get in freezing temperatures to consume, chat, and dance inside of an pretty much laughably severe landscape. In When Weeds Bloom, Jennes signifies some of the spirit of these gatherings, harnessing the shock, humor, and antiauthoritarianism that characterizes the carnivalesque.

Many of Jennes’ slapstick compositions are divided in two, albeit unequal components: a person part has a figure (or two) slipping, although the other depicts a tiny huddle of figures with mask or doll-like faces staring at the screen of gracelessness before them. Crowds of clustered people today have been, for the superior component of the past two many years, a taboo. But in Jennes’ paintings, what is risky is also what is life-affirming. His males and beasts issue to the self-deprecating comedy that is so generally a reprieve from the depths of despair, loneliness, and anxiety. In why and How? … no one will know, a cow inexplicably falls back again-first onto an unsuspecting sufferer cigarette smoking a cigarette. Certainly: why, and how? We glance to Jennes’ other paintings for responses, but they react only with beguiling, clownish revelry.

The exhibition captures its cast of human and animal figures mid-gesture inside of theatrically flat outside options. Jennes foregoes clear delineations amongst foreground and track record, inserting horizon strains near to the canvases’ reduced edge, and eschewing naturalistic perspective. Depth instead is articulated in Jennes’ surfaces, which are labored palimpsests of loaded oil paint. A lot of the texture, pattern, and even emotion (his trees are stuffed with lovers’ inscriptions) displayed in the performs is attained by way of his painstaking manipulation of make any difference and form.

The flattened compositions in When weeds bloom resemble phases, revealing Jennes’ fascination in the dynamics in between overall performance and observation. In I like everyday living a good deal, a determine topples headfirst into the grass though his dancing compatriots observe with heat smiles. In I’m worried my toes are blue, a guy on an overturned bicycle pushes a pal to the ground. A dense mass of figures obtain at the painting’s margin, looking at the scene with intrigue. The strangeness of staying perceived can take on an explicitly surreal tone in wherever have you fallen, have you fallen? The portray depicts a gentleman falling headfirst from a tree. He is inches away from the floor, but as a substitute of grass we capture a glimpse of another confront. Their gaze locks: the slipping person has been caught. Regretably for him, his debauched tumble will not be broken, only witnessed.

The partnership amongst actor and observer performs out not just among figures in just the paintings, but also in the type and tackle of the exhibition as a entire. While the flattened place of each individual canvas could seem to force back on us, their set up reaches outward, inviting us into its sphere. Jennes’ forest surrounds us on all sides, and a suite of fifty metal frogs lies beneath our feet. The artist even delivers us a spot to sit and keep a while: he hand-crafted a bench, a table, and a established of chairs for the exhibition. The galleries, then, come to be Jennes’ expanded canvas, and we turn out to be associates of his enchanted planet.

The angle and aesthetics of carnival are deeply entrenched in just Jennes’ operates, which discover auspices in fellow-Belgian painter James Ensor’s kaleidoscopically grotesque compositions. Ordinarily, Carnival serves as a suspension of social and political mores. Once masks and costumes are donned, the regulations of polite culture screech to a halt and citizens of any course are offered the prospect to embody a more libertine id with tiny consequence. While When Weeds Bloom—which functions vagrants who consume, ogle, dance, sing, leap, and tumble amid thin-trunked trees—does not overtly reference the celebration, its spirit is apparent in the style and material of the perform. Furthermore, his paintings depict the dangers we are inclined to get in the identify of festivity.


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