Belgian artist Pieter Jennes‘ new exhibition When Weeds Bloom at Nino Mier Gallery is a Rabelaisian romp by way of a densely populated forest showcasing twenty-5 new paintings, furnishings, and a ground installation.
Past calendar year in Antwerp, wherever Jennes now lives and functions, a social scene burgeoned exterior the metropolis center. Because the pandemic pressured the closure of numerous community collecting spots, individuals commenced congregating in the woods, where by land was however public. Jennes describes an invigorating mix of desperation and glee, as persons would assemble in freezing temperatures to drink, chat, and dance in just an just about laughably harsh landscape. In When Weeds Bloom, Jennes signifies some of the spirit of these gatherings, harnessing the shock, humor, and antiauthoritarianism that characterizes the carnivalesque.
Several of Jennes’ slapstick compositions are divided in two, albeit unequal areas: 1 part is made up of a figure (or two) falling, whilst the other depicts a little huddle of figures with mask or doll-like faces staring at the screen of gracelessness prior to them. Crowds of clustered people today have been, for the superior section of the earlier two decades, a taboo. But in Jennes’ paintings, what is dangerous is also what is lifetime-affirming. His gentlemen and beasts point to the self-deprecating comedy that is so normally a reprieve from the depths of despair, loneliness, and anxiety. In why and How? … nobody will know, a cow inexplicably falls back again-1st on to an unsuspecting victim using tobacco a cigarette. Indeed: why, and how? We appear to Jennes’ other paintings for answers, but they reply only with beguiling, clownish revelry.
The exhibition captures its solid of human and animal people mid-gesture inside of theatrically flat out of doors configurations. Jennes foregoes crystal clear delineations in between foreground and background, positioning horizon traces close to the canvases’ decreased edge, and eschewing naturalistic point of view. Depth rather is articulated in Jennes’ surfaces, which are worked palimpsests of abundant oil paint. Significantly of the texture, sample, and even emotion (his trees are stuffed with lovers’ inscriptions) shown in the is effective is realized by means of his painstaking manipulation of matter and form.
The flattened compositions in When weeds bloom resemble levels, revealing Jennes’ interest in the dynamics concerning overall performance and observation. In I like everyday living a good deal, a figure topples headfirst into the grass although his dancing compatriots observe with warm smiles. In I’m afraid my toes are blue, a gentleman on an overturned bicycle pushes a good friend to the floor. A dense mass of people acquire at the painting’s margin, looking at the scene with intrigue. The strangeness of being perceived can take on an explicitly surreal tone in where have you fallen, have you fallen? The painting depicts a male slipping headfirst from a tree. He is inches absent from the ground, but as an alternative of grass we capture a glimpse of another facial area. Their gaze locks: the slipping person has been caught. Unfortunately for him, his debauched drop will not be damaged, only witnessed.
The partnership between actor and observer plays out not just in between figures within the paintings, but also in the sort and deal with of the exhibition as a whole. Even though the flattened house of each and every canvas may feel to push back on us, their installation reaches outward, inviting us into its sphere. Jennes’ forest surrounds us on all sides, and a suite of fifty metallic frogs lies beneath our toes. The artist even offers us a position to sit and remain a although: he hand-crafted a bench, a desk, and a established of chairs for the exhibition. The galleries, then, grow to be Jennes’ expanded canvas, and we turn into users of his enchanted earth.
The frame of mind and aesthetics of carnival are deeply entrenched within Jennes’ functions, which come across auspices in fellow-Belgian painter James Ensor’s kaleidoscopically grotesque compositions. Historically, Carnival serves as a suspension of social and political mores. The moment masks and costumes are donned, the guidelines of well mannered culture screech to a halt and citizens of any class are provided the possibility to embody a a lot more libertine identification with minimal consequence. Although When Weeds Bloom—which features vagrants who drink, ogle, dance, sing, leap, and tumble amid slender-trunked trees—does not overtly reference the celebration, its spirit is apparent in the model and articles of the get the job done. Furthermore, his paintings depict the challenges we are eager to just take in the identify of festivity.