Jannis Marwitz @ Damien & The Love Guru, Brussels
Bonaventura Jannis Marwitzle
3. november – 21. december 2018
wednesday – saturday
1 – 6 pm
The Rebirth of Venus
When the Roman god Uranus was castrated by his son, his blood gushed into the seas of the earth. The event, violent and tragic as it was, gave way to beauty nonetheless. Uranus’ seed mixed with the ocean’s foam, and in this union Venus was born. The legend of the goddess of love’s origins inspired a rich array of images and texts, a tradition of poems and paintings which spanned centuries.
Venus is born again in the work of Jannis Marwitz (°1985), be it in an alternative version of the facts. She stands in a teacup, awakening as a liquid mixture is poured over her. Some of Marwitz’s shapes and figures are inspired by Italian traditions, from antique reliefs to renaissance paintings. However, his painting technique has its origins in Northern Europe. Marwitz studiously applies thin translucent layers, creating volume in a manner reminiscent of Jan Van Eyck and Hans Memling. The result is both familiar and estranging – like the memory of an event that never happened.
Marwitz synthesizes a variety of European traditions. He delves through books in search of recipes for paints. He studies the canon of European art and literature looking for stories and protagonists. Still, the artist’s engagement with the past and respect for craftsmanship never overpower his urge to innovate. Marwitz takes parts from art’s history and cuts them off, mixing them into his world to give birth to something new. In this endeavour, he is very much like Uranus’ son.
Besides the fields, close to a little pond, a pair of trees are casting shadows, stretched from the mid September sun. Summer is offering a pair of buttons to Autumn. Autumn, still hesitating, whether he should agree to this deal, is already counting his inherited golden animal statues, which he might want to give in return. His hesitation is well appropriate, since there is something he has missed… The buttons do not have the same size!
Button Venus. The button could be seen as an undefined amount of goods and money, or these 1, 2 and 5 cent coins which no one picks up from the street. To consider it therefore a fountain (only because there is a shell in the background), is the wrong path though. All water would spill out of the upright shell.
Two paintings of the birth of Venus. As we are moving on, the shell is not a shell anymore but a porcelain cup resting on something like a table. One is the interior, the other one the domestic, but besides of small changes they appear the same.
There is a portrait crowned with a simple wreath of rucola leaves.
And a red study of draperies and heads, one of them is playing the flute.
Why build skyscrapers as if they were the Himalayas,
if you cannot topple them –
so that there is a little laughter.
What is even – must be bent!
and what stretches to the sky –
must be turned to dust!
We don’t need any Hurricane –
We don’t need any Typhoon!
Then the havoc which those can wreak –
That, we can do… That, we can do…
That, we can do ourselves!
The Hurricane is awful.
Even worse is the Typhoon!
But the worst of all – is man!
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, K. Weill, B. Brecht, first performed March 1930 Neues Theater Leipzig
Sea Thiasos, Paris, Louvre, 220 – 230 AD
Triumph of Dionysos and the Seasons, Kassel, Schloss Wilhelmshöhe Antikensammlung, 240 – 250 AD
Venus in Shell, detail of roman sarcophagus, Paris, Louvre, after E. Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance
Bonaventura Joseph Mutschele
Photography: © Alexey Shlyk / courtesy of the artist and Damien & The Love Guru