press release

Jonathan Meese. Meese's Odyssey
November 15, 2018–March 3, 2019

"Meese’s Odyssey is a conquest! The man of the future transcends ideologies through play! In Meese's Odyssey, tender playgrounds open up—in other words, leeway in the future." (Jonathan Meese, Manifesto for the Pinakothek der Moderne, 2018)

Jonathan Meese (b. 1970 in Tokyo and based in Berlin) is one of the most internationally renowned and polarising artists of his generation. His universal worldview and his reflections on mythology and the power of art are expressed not only through the mediums of painting, sculpture, installation, and performance, but also with words and language. Meese’s use of image and text, as playful as it is thoughtful, is the focal point of this show, which comprises works from the last 25 years.

At the core of the exhibition, curated by Bernhart Schwenk and Swantje Grundler, are 17 paintings from the artist’s personal collection. Several of the paintings on display are being shown publicly for the first time. Complementing this selection is a number of works from the Goetz Collection, Munich, which have also never been exhibited before, as well as pieces from three German private collections.

In addition, 24 spatial models and small sculptures, as well as 75 drawings, photo collages, and artist’s books will be on display. Meese’s spatial models—made in the mid-90s—will be exhibited as stand-alone objects for the very first time. Most of the drawings, realised between 1993 and 2000, will be making their public debut. Footage of one of the artist’s earliest performances, gathered from his personal archive, will also be shown.

Looking back on these works, certain themes—which are central to the artist’s oeuvre, and which find their initial, multifaceted expression in his early works—become clear: gestures and insignias of power, male and female warriors, fairy-tale villains, night terrors in the children's room and the ambivalence of evil. The unexpected tenderness of the artist's visual cosmos then emerges in contrast to these themes.

Jonathan Meese designed the carpet-diagram exclusively for the museum show in Munich: Meese’s Odyssey as a Gesamtkunstwerk [total work of art]. In the Greek epic poem the Odyssey, the hero Odysseus embarks on a series of dangerous adventures and faces mysterious challenges, and in the end, comes home a changed man. In this exhibition, Meese—like a modern-day Ulysses—navigates his way through an imaginary journey. The epic of the adventure story serves as a meta-narrative: a means of bringing together characters from both classical literature and popular, contemporary fiction to create his own narratives.

In the glossary included in a pocketbook, an accompaniment to the exhibition, Meese elaborates upon his world of motifs for the first time; also included in the book is a transcription of a conceptual discussion between the artist and curators. The exhibition has been photographed by Jörg Koopmann, and the book was designed by Thomas Mayfried. Published by Walther König Publishers, Cologne.

On the occasion of the exhibition, facsimiles of the artist's books Die Monosau (1996) and Marshall Marshallson IV (1995-97) have been published by Institutions, Munich, and are distributed by Walther König Publishers, Cologne.

The exhibition is funded by
PIN. Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne e.V.