FOLKERT DE JONG @ Valentin, Paris


Exhibition from October 13th to November 17th, 2018 Opening on Saturday October 13th, 6-9 pm.
For his frst solo exhibition at the Galerie Valentin, Dutch artist Folkert de Jong presents a new installation composed of recent pieces completed and unveiled for the occasion.
It begins with ten tablets, referring to the Bible’s commandments, followed by three articulated sculptures, a trio of pantomime crucifed Christs without the cross, animated like crude amusement park automatons, minus the laughter of children to drown out the noise of the machinery.
Far from an ode to the religious, in its title alone the exhibition touches on a much more apocalyptic notion. Besides being a dangerous elixir, Wormwood (aka. absinthe, the alcohol that causes madness) is a reference to an album by “The Residents”a band representing the fnest of the American underground as well as to a star of the same name from the Book of Revelation: the star is said to fall to Earth to poison its rivers and springs. The title thus sets the exhibition on the dark side of religion and in the realm of the avant-garde and protest art, typically opposed to the commodifcation of art.
As in much of his work, Folkert uses historical fgures to better manipulate them within a contemporary political context. It is a manipulation as much in form, from statues made of carved wood bought in Scotland to polyurethane foam casts, as in fgure: after passing through the hands of the artist, these Christs look more like Goth-ish bogeymen at an Alice Cooper concert.
The ten commandments, dogmatic imperatives that should have held society in a state of humane harmony, have served instead to justify war and destruction. We are reminded here of texts brandished today by some to justify their own acts of cruelty.
The fgure of Christ is used as a cultural referent to the history of art, the history of humanity, and the personal history of the artist. This statuary has for centuries symbolized the link between man and god. Today we have come to desacralize religious transitional objects to make room for other ones, such as mobile phones… Are they not the same thing? Here Folkert may be alluding to our society’s growing abandonment of the spiritual in favour of pure materialism.
Like a necromancer, Folkert de Jong reanimates the sculpture of Christ, yet he cannot bring him back to life. Folkert is not God, after all; he’s just a contemporary artist.
This Jesus is agitated, desperately signalling to us. What is he trying to say, to make us understand? Regardless, a feeling of unease lingers over these giants with their long ebony hair.
With this disturbing, titillating, provocative pageant, once again Folkert seeks to capture the viewer’s attention like a big-budget Hollywood flm would…. He’s not making a scene (in the sense of a tantrum); rather, he wants to grip the viewers so they cannot escape without retaining a garish image of the experience they’ve just been through.
Wormwood or the temptation of cosmicide, threat or wake-up call to what’s at stake in the world today….
This exhibition follows a major retrospective of Folkert’s work at MOCA Tucson.

Folkert de Jong (born in 1972) works and lives in Amsterdam. He graduated from the School of Art of Amsterdan and The Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. He received the Rome prize (2003) and the Charlotte Köhler prize (2002). De Jong is currently presenting his new project, “Wormwood”, at the Valentin gallery in Paris (FR). He had a major retrospective exhibition at the MOCA Tucson (Museum Of Contemporary Art d’art contemporain), Arizona (US).
His solo and group exhibitions include: GEM, La Hague (NL), monCHERI, Bruxelles (BE), Brand New Gallery, Milan (IT), James Cohan Gallery, New York (US), Luis Adelantado gallery (MX & SP), The Hepworth, Wakefield (UK), Middelheimmuseum, Anvers (BE), MUDAM, Luxembourg (LX), Portland Art Museum (US), Arario gallery, Seoul (KR), Galerie Dukan Hourdequin, Paris (FR), Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow (UK), Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill (US), Peres Projects (DE & US), Kunsthalle Winterthour (CH), Stedelijk Museum Het Domein Sittard, Limburg (NL), The Council, Chisenhale Gallery, Londres (UK), The Field Sculpture park, OMI International Arts Center, Ghent (US), Kunsthalle Erfurt (DE), Museum Kranenburg, Bergen NH (NL), Villa Enpain, Fondation Boghossian, Bruxelles (BE), Museu Picasso, Barcelone (SP), Helsinki Art Museum (FI), Molina Arte contemporaneo, Buenos Aires (RA), CODA Museum, Apeldoorn (NL), NCCA, Moscou (RU), Le Tripostal, Lille (FR), SMAK, Ghent (BE), La Conciergerie, Paris (FR), Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal (CA), Deste Foundation, Athene (GR), Sculpture Museum Middelheim, Anvers (BE), Mary Boone Gallery, New York (US)…

Exhibition views “Wormwood”
Valentin, Paris, France, 2018.
© Photo: Grégory Copitet / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.