There is no artist in the world, no art historian or the seeker of supreme intellectual expression that has not asked him- or herself whether their quest is truly useful Useful in the sense of meaning, significance and production of some kind of result. The mediocrity rules the world and it often rules out art as ridiculous, absurd and utterly useless. But what if in this ethereal, hardly defined nature of creativity hides its true character? What if the seeming uselessness of art is in fact the trait of the unreachable realm of intellect, where poetry also dwells? If so, its utility becomes an obsolete subject and the questioning of its applicability becomes just as absurd as the art to those who do not grasp it. These are some of the problems explored in the recent works of the French artist Jaybo Monk, a Berliner by choice, which are about to be exhibited at the Circle Culture Gallery in Hamburg.
What is art?
Throughout the series overflowing with references to the artist’s role models and historic styles, Jaybo concentrates on investigation of the functionality of artistic expression in the effort to redefine its practical value on a level apart from the generally accepted classification scheme.
Title of the show is Useless, pregnant with meaning and allusions to the artistic research of Jaybo, who continually places known objects in a new setting, providing them with concept and value. His prime objective is to extract and depict the elevated poetic value of the so-easily perceived uselessness of art. Useless is a solo exhibition of Jaybo, showcasing his latest discoveries in the form of paintings and objects.
What does art do?
During his quest for the artistic essence, Jaybo uncovered a paradox, as he explains – “Uselessness is poetry. But poetry is useful. I try to find the same emotional level in my paintings and objects as one can find in a poem”. Pointing out this simple, but vital truth, he refutes the theory of the pointless nature of art and places it on the contemporary Parnassus, where it should be. As for the objects he reuses, their escape into the meaningless world is caused by the unbearable heaviness of the familiar and the functional associated with them. Jabo releases the objects from their purpose and their past, opening a new door for development and reinvention, following a tradition of Dada as he assembles his ready-mades. His historic practice comments on the overwhelming amount of useless digital imagery which permeates our everyday, having zero desire to push beyond the surface.
Jaybo’s use of art
Jaybo’s work is thus analogue in opposition to the digital and it consciously taps into the history of human contemplative achievements. Stylistically, his painting revolves around the fragmented volumes of human body juxtaposed with geometric color planes, collage portions and landscape suggestions. We can read influences of most important movements of modern art, complementing each other in what is almost a baroque composition, avoiding the symmetry. His ready-mades marry simple objects with vital elements, combining the organic, the cultural and the symbolic into evocative sculptures. Extraordinarily eclectic, but still cohesive, the artwork of Jaybo Monk exemplifies an abundance of celebrative detail referencing art and history of humankind, standing en garde in defence of their purpose, value and significance, while retaining the high aesthetics and approachable elements keeping the direct and profound connection with a spectator. Selected from the artist’s own imagination and scale, the composing elements speak to anyone, relating on the deeper level of collective unconscious.
Useless – There Might Ben Nothing More Free Than Nonsense opening reception is scheduled for March 28 at Circle Culture in Hambure, and the exhbiition will run through April 19, 2014.