m.simons is proud to present Paul de Jong (1985). The young painter whose meaty, textured paintings already got him nominated twice for the Dutch Royal Prize for Painting and have been included in numerous group exhibitions at museums and institutions, will show recent paintings as well as a couple of drawings in this solo exhibition. Below you'll find an interview conducted with Paul in the week before the opening of the exhibition.Paul de Jong lives and works in The Hague, where he graduated from the the KABK in 2013.
You told me that skateboarding influenced much of your life; both socially and artistically. How exactly did it influence your artistic practice?
I think that through skateboarding, you tend to see your surroundings differently; in a sense of how can I use this? A park bench transforms into something to grind over, and you see gaps in a sense of jumping distance. This freedom is the same in drawing; initial forms with their associations become something new altogether; teapots become monsters, a fountain sprouts from a set of dismembered torsos, and so forth....
Your drawings tend to be quite gruesome….
I like the word grotesque better. The word grosteque to me means combining something horrific with something very banal. I started making these fineliner drawings during a clerk job, just to entertain myself. The drawings revealed a side of my work which was surprising to me at first. The material allowed me to draw scenes and stories where these horrific and banal subjects would fuse together. I liked the fact that some people found these drawings uncomfortable to look at, while other people just laughed out loud.
There’s a strong connection with the work of Philip Guston…
Yes, there’s definitely a link [laughs]. When I first saw his work during my time at the academy, it was the first painter where something clicked for me. It’s of course not only Guston, it’s a whole universe of artists such as James Gilray, James Ensor and Robert Crump.
How do you start a painting?
There is never really a fixed process. Sometimes there is a clear idea which comes out quite fast, sometimes the idea is more abstract and may require months of work and can totally transform over time. I noticed I can't demand how a workshould look, it is a collaboration. Me and the painting have to work together to reach a point we are both happy with.
Someone asked you if you have roots in the countryside…
Yeah, once a visitor asked me whether I have family in farming. Of course I have a series of paintings depicting farming tools. But more so, it got me thinking of my process; to me painting is like modeling mudd; I like it best when paint struggles and pulls. Maybe that’s why some of the works tend to look they have been pulled right from earth….
Your paintings tend to have something meaty to them..
[laughs] Yes, I am not sure where this meat subject came from, the first ever painting I did was of a group of people with limbs growing and falling of all over the place. I just think it real interesting that although everyone is made of flesh and blood, and enjoys looking at other bodies, people get uncomfortable when presented with images of bodily parts or of fleshy textures.