Berlin-based German contemporary artist Jonas Burgert creates macabre portraits and figurative scenes featuring a cast of mysterious and grotesque human figures. The figures' ghoulish antecedents can be found in the work of Flemish and Renaissance artists.Read More
Born in Berlin, Burgert studied at the Berlin University of the Arts, graduating in 1996. The following year he studied under established painter and professor Dieter Hacker. Since 1998, Burgert has been presenting distinctly bizarre and surreal figurative scenes in an effort to examine the absurdities of the human condition.
In oil paintings, works on paper, and sculptures, Burgert presents a vibrant cast of surreal and absurd costumed figures, including skeletons, harlequins, Amazons, and children. These mystical figures that ambiguously waver between death and life are adorned with a hodge-podge of fabrics and materials from various eras, assorted objects, and the occasional animal or animal part.
The scale of Jonas Burgert's paintings varies from small, intimate, detailed portraits to massive canvases. Larger scenes, like Glimpflinge (2020) and ein Klang lang (2019), are packed with figures and organically intermingling forms that take their leave from the likes of Hieronymus Bosch in a confounding flurry of action and inaction. The artist's smaller singular portraits, like Triebe (2020) or blindstill (2019), also reflect many Flemish and Renaissance precedents in their framing and poses.
Though drawing from historical sources, Jonas Burgert's works are not intended to be references solely to the past, with a cast of characters that mash together historical, contemporary, and fantastical elements. The artist draws inspiration from a massive personal archive of photographs and reproductions, including images of family, strangers, interior scenes, and religious rituals.
Each bizarre costumed subject of Burgert's larger paintings is held in its own isolated moment. The chaotic scenes of these paintings do not tell a conventional linear narrative; instead, the artist focuses on expressing the daily theatre of human psychology—the subtext of everyday social interactions. In an interview with Claudia Stockhausen, Burgert explained 'I draw my inspiration, creativity and energy to create especially from human relations and emotions.'
Jonas Burgert's paintings and sculptures have captivated an international audience, appearing in group and solo shows across the globe and becoming the subject of several dedicated books. His artwork can also be found in public collections such as the Denver Art Museum and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami.
Blindstich, Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing (2020); Sinn frisst, Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, Germany (2020); Ein Klang Lang, Tang Contemporary Art, Hong Kong (2019); Zeitlaich, Blain|Southern, Berlin (2017); sticht, Produzentengalerie Hamburg (2013); Hitting every head, Haunch of Venison, London (2009); kopfschluss, Stadtgalerie Schwaz, Austria (2008).
Szene Berlin, Hall Art Foundation, Derneburg, Germany (2020); BOSCH & BURGERT, Theatermuseum, Vienna (2017); The Figure in Process: de Kooning to Kapoor 1955–2015, Pivot Art + Culture, Seattle (2015); Schach, Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany (2011); Das Unheimliche, Modulorhaus, Berlin (2009); The teardrop explodes, Stadtgalerie Schwaz, Austria (2007); Triumph of Painting Part VI, Saatchi Gallery, London (2006); FRAKTALE I, Parochialkirche, Berlin (2000).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2021