Persona July, 16th 2020 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 272 - Jonat Deelstra

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 272 – Jonat Deelstra

Sawed-through jungle giants on a trailer in the Amazon. A rainbow and above it the original treetops. A rubber plantation in the same area, with the rubber trees neatly lined up, with their palm branches forming a church ceiling. A calf on a stage with a trickle of blood from his chest, like Jan van Eyck and a more abstract work of bleached coral. I saw that in the GoMulan Gallery in Amsterdam. In between sculptures on top of large eggs on pedestals.

I saw the artist explain his work in a streamed interview. This showed that he is particularly eager to travel and curious about the things that take place in countries in Asia and South and Central America, economically and culturally, and especially how the mindset of those involved functions there.

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A week or two later I visit Jonat Deelstra in his studio in Halfweg, ‘BOGOTÁ’ is the name of the location. Dozens of artists and creatives work in this ‘breeding ground’. We walk from building A to building B and via metal stairs, through and over studio containers, we arrive in Jonats Atelier.

Various works against the walls, a cow driver on his horse driving the white cows, typically Brazilian, scenes from Mexico, a man with a large bunch of bananas on his back, a row of people with donkeys in between on the edge of a wide river and more sober works of a male in various poses. In between small sculptures of coral. Muted background music comes from the speakers.

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San Cristobal

I take a closer look at the work while Jonat makes coffee. I see ‘Nino Jesus’ and a picture of what could be an apostle. Jonat explains: “I’ve been to Mexico four times. These works are based on what I saw in San Cristobal. When you see the statues and paintings in the cathedral you see a different kind of aesthetic. Nino Jesus, baby Jesus, is surrounded by flowers and plant sculptures. There is a plastic cloud and skippy balls are placed next to it. Mexico is a spiritual country, but the Mexicans interpret it completely differently from what we experience as authentic religious in Europe. ”

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Jonat makes this work layer by layer. “I start on the basis of photos. I focus on the light. After a few layers, the work goes in a certain direction. It is getting ‘weirder’.” This also applies to the paintings about deforestation of the Amazon. In a blog on his site, Jonat says that although deforestation is a bad thing, he does not want to immediately go on the tour of how bad it all is. “I consciously choose the perspective of those who cut down the jungle giants. What is in their mind? They have a perspective of new plantations and grounds for livestock. I watch with them. Not the Greenpeace perspective. That provides more ‘space’. Ultimately, I do believe that we should keep our hands off the jungle. ”

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Collective behavior

Jonat’s work is about human behavior. “I like to zoom out. I don’t focus on the behavior of people, but on collective behavior. It has something sociological. There is a link with nature as a social subject.” That has never been the starting point, but when he looks back, it turns out to be the common thread. “Now that I know, I look around me with different eyes. On the bike I make up images for new work. I am always working on several projects at the same time. The ideas come from everyday life, from the internet, I always want to learn something. ”

Jonat has been professionally active for two and a half years, but he has actually been working all his life. “As long as I can remember. I graduated from HKU Utrecht in 2017 as an illustrator. Before that I had already participated in a few exhibitions. In 2018 Mulan Go asked me to exhibit in her gallery. That seemed fun to me. After the opening I had the feeling that I could go for it. ”

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Key work

Does he have a key work, a work that gave a twist to his work? That appears to be there, it is called ‘Welcome 1’. “It is the only work I will never sell. It is a very basic work, acrylic on cardboard. It has been in the living room for eight years. It is the first work where I thought ‘I think I can really paint’. I still think it’s a great work. Some works are time-barred, but this one has stood the test of time.” I see Welcome 2 on the wall. It is inspired by Welcome 1. On the edge of a riverbank we see a row of people, some donkeys in between. To the right is a section of light that opens into a landing facility for ships. It turns out the Nile in Egypt. “A new people seen from the river. Is that frightening? I give it something comforting, with a bit of light at the landing site. ”

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Egg sculptures

He draws, paints and also makes woodcuts. He started his ceramic work three months ago. They were also shown at the exhibition. An egg topped with figures. Jonat: “I made a big egg. To bake it hard in the oven, I had to hollow it out. I made figures from the hollowed clay. A new concept: hatching your own ‘egg-matter’. Everything appears on top of that egg. It’s worth the effort. I keep going on. ”

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What is his experience of art life? “For me it is freedom and loneliness. They suit me. I am social on weekends and evenings. During the day I love it on my own, I disappear into my own world. With music on. Another person would get completely disturbed.” The downside is that he has to find the way himself. “There is no map of the path. I have to do the routing myself. It takes a lot of courage to follow your own compass. You are also vulnerable. You can be punished. But I don’t get criticized very often. Maybe people do have criticism, but they keep it to themselves. While I appreciate criticism. People put art on a pedestal too much, which is why they don’t dare to express their opinion. A pity, while that leads to nice conversations. ”

Once he received criticism because of his installation ‘People’. “It was shown at a Techno Festival. A boy who had been on drugs had lost all inhibitions and told his unvarnished opinion. I really appreciated that. He thought the artwork could have been a lot weirder. I often think about that boy.”

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Finally, what is his philosophy? “In terms of theme, my research focuses on various social themes. I enjoy working with materials that I don’t know, sculpturally and in practice. I hate perfection. The best thing there is to learn something new. So while the topics are quite serious, I try to be loose and playful in the image. ”

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1) CrothchVault, 2) Brazil, Amazon Area, 3) Digital Autograph, 4) CH4 Bubble LQ, 5) GoMulan Gallery, 14-05-2020 WebRes 1, 6) GoMulan Gallery, 14-05-2020 WebRes 3, 7) Living under the hockey stick graph LQ, 8) The Protagonist, 9) Treats, 10) Jonat

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