"Fruits & Vegetables" series
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They come in yellow, green and brown. In long and narrow shapes. Soft, furry, sweet and sour. They appeal to all our senses and evoke associations. They are considered healthy, and almost everyone has a favorite and a less popular variety. And everyone has an idea in their head of what they look like: We are talking about fruits and vegetables. In everyday life we are often confronted with them, some more or less in their pure form. In bold colors and shapes and combined with text elements, the fruits and vegetables in Jens Joneleit's "Fruit and Vegetable" series look at us, harmoniously balanced and skillfully provoked.
The art-iconography savvy among us mentally play through the meaning of fruits and vegetables in art history and try to classify what we see in that sense, but fail, as no classical reference can be found. Everything seems thrown together, combined with text chat fragments, message boxes - like a mixture of everything that just doesn't fit together. Pineapple, for example, suddenly tells us about a hamster and his friend the rabbit, but breaks off in the middle of the punch line. In Kiwi, the upper part of the work is about "human rejection" and at the same time, the lower part rejects the medium of "NFT art" by the artist himself and asks the viewer for his/her personal opinion on the subject, with the prompt "call to action" including a faded-in (wrong, of course) phone number. With the questions addressed to us, we feel partly directly, partly subtly involved in the pictorial event and at first do not know what to do with our thoughts and questions.
Jens Joneleit plays with the unexpected, with abrupt leaps of thought and changes of subject, and with the viewer of his works - just when you think you have understood it, you catch yourself being deceived. There are so many questions hidden in Joneleit's works and the answers can be found between the lines or not at all, because basically it is neither about fruits and vegetables, nor about content, conclusive statements.
Jens Joneleit began his "Fruits and Vegetables" series in response to a challenge posed to him in the summer of 2021: whether Jens Joneleit would ever paint figuratively. For the artist, a canvas is an experiential space. He is not interested in using the canvas for anything else "outside" of pure painting, such as using the canvas to stage a representational space or even to depict a recognizable figure on the canvas. And yet he accepts the challenge presented to him by questioning the definition of figuration in his "Fruits & Vegetables" series. With this in mind, we search the pictorial structure again and see a lime with chicken feet, an avocado that looks like a frog grinning at us, a tomato whose shape we trace with our eyes in search of a face of some sort. Joneleit asks, "What makes a figure? - Does it need arms, legs, a face? Just because something has a torso, four limbs and a head doesn't make it figurative," he says, recommending not reading too much into these works, textually or visually. And yet, he provides one conundrum after another.
In search of meaning, we literally bounce off the mirror-smooth surface and are simultaneously captured by the inviting compositions. It is precisely this dichotomy that makes the series so exciting and that is also reflected in its aesthetic: the painterly, flat stagings that feign relief-like textures and yet these very textures are presented on a flat but glossy surface, like the retina display of a smartphone or a tablet as an all-encompassing instance of the un-tangible world.
Discover more artworks by Jens Joneleit: