The central theme of this exhibition is Jonathan Meese’s diverse, in-depth work with the Parsifal myth. Since 1999, the artist has on numerous occasions addressed the central subject of Bayreuth and its creator Richard Wagner. In 2005 Parsifal, the figure of the “pure fool” appeared for the first time in his oeuvre. The Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden had invited the artist to come up with a performance for the Magazin, which took place parallel to the “Parsifal” Wagner opera conducted by Daniel Barenboim. In three five-hour appearances, in a production titled Jonathan Meese ist Mutter Parzival, Parsifal became transformed into Jonathan Meese and Jonathan Meese into Parsifal – with the boundaries between the artist and the Parsifal figure becoming metaphorically blurred.
For the artist Meese, Parsifal stands for the artist of the future, who with his unmistakably clear gaze paves the way to a new world. In 2014, Meese first transformed this material in his concept for a staging of “Parsifal” for Bayreuther Festspiele. He had already been asked in 2012 to take on the dramaturgy, stage set design and costumes. The artist’s concept for the Festspiele was rejected but he took this as an occasion to develop a radically new reinterpretation of the Parsifal material for the Vienna Festival (Wiener Festwochen) in cooperation with the Berliner Festspiele.
Together with the Austrian composer Bernhard Lang, Meese transformed Parsifal into a science fiction scenario, stripped free of Richard Wagner’s religious pathos, in their production Mondparsifal ALPHA 1-8 .
In De Pakt Mit Richard Wagnerz Jonathan Meese is presenting early works referring to Wagner as well as his stage set and costume designs for the Bayreuther Festspiele. The show will also feature paintings, collages, sculptures and films that were created in connection with the new staging, Mondparsifal. Parallel to this Jonathan Meese will be presenting the intervention titled Parsifal´S Traum: Chefsache ´K.U.N.S.T´ in the painting gallery of the Vienna Museum of Art History from May 12 to June 18, 2017.
Since the very beginning Jonathan Meese feels most strongly drawn to forms of artistic expression such as installations, actions and performances. In 2004 he began turning to the theater stage where he employed various materials, references, objects and media such as photography, music and literature as pictorial means.
Like hardly any other art of the present day, Jonathan Meese has worked intensively with the figure of Wagner and his world of myths, integrating his heroes in his own world theater. While many of this artist colleagues would prefer not to deal with this figure, also given Richard Wagner’s anti-Semitic diatribes and the cooptation of his work by the Nazi regime, Meese’s approach seems all the more peculiar, radical and above all uninhibited.
Jonathan Meese was born in Tokyo in 1970, lives and works in Berlin und Ahrensburg. Solo exhibitions (selected): PARSIFAL’S TRAUM: Chefsache ‚K.U.N.S.T.’, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria (2017); Dr. Merlin de Large (Marquis Zed de Baby-Excalibur), Carré Sainte-Anne, Montpellier, France (2017); Jonathan Meese: My Über Daddys Nationalgalerie Prague, Czech Republic (2015); Malermeese. Meesemaler, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria (2013); Totalste Graphik, Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien, Austria (2012); GEM Museum voor actuele kunst, the Hague, the Netherlands, „Sculpture“, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, USA (2010); Fraulein Atlantis, Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria (2007); Mama Johnny, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (2006); Sherwood Forest, Franz Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands (2006); MOR, mit Tal R, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark (2005); Képi blanc, nackt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2004).