Artist: Jonathan Monk
Exhibition title: The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH)
Venue: Blondeau & Cie, Geneva, Switzerland
Date: April 17 – July 9, 2016
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Blondeau & Cie, Geneva
On the occasion of the “Nuit des Bains,” held in Geneva on 17 March, Blondeau & Cie is delighted to present The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH), an exhibition by Jonathan Monk.
The British artist revisits and reinterprets works from contemporary art with a mixture of wit, ingenuity and irreverence, appropriating and reorganising elements from a vast collection of images in a manner that is ironic but may also contain autobiographical allusions. Monk considers the written concept for his works as of equal importance to the physical realisations themselves, much as Sol LeWitt conceived the instructions for his Wall Drawings from 1968 on.
In his 2011 show for the gallery, Dear Painter, paint for me one last time, Jonathan Monk questioned the role of the contemporary painter, just as Martin Kippenberger did in 1981.
He describes his new show in Geneva, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH), as follows:
Some time ago I accidentally acquired a small book by Richard Hamilton. It was to become part of a series of accidental purchases, but I didn’t know that at the time. The 911 handbook was written by Richard Hamilton but not the English artist of the same name. I started to research the other Richard Hamilton’s writings and as is often the case my journey took another twist and a turn until it stopped dead at the website of the auction house Bonhams. They listed a 1973 Porsche 911S 2.4-Litre Coupé once owned by Richard Hamilton… but which Richard Hamilton? -all very mysterious…
I read further and it was a car once owned by the artist RH. He used it to drive to and from his studio and jaunts into London and to his summer house in Spain and his numerous galleries on the continent. The car had been very carefully looked after and only ever serviced by one specific local Porsche dealership – it was in perfect order for a forty year-old car and it sold accordingly for €541,526 including buyer’s premium. I am not sure if it was sold as the perfect vintage Porsche 911 or as a car once owned by one of Britain’s most important artists… – I guess we’ll never know.
I decided to continue the journey and complete the circuit by making images of the car – it was important for me to make life-sized images… like a real car. But the only picture available was via Bonhams’ website – enlarging, measuring and cropping created an almost completely abstract version of the car – each of the ten photographs containing 800 square pixels… Printed on glossy paper and framed in polished aluminium to create a slowed down version of the original – a blocky rendering of its beautiful curves.
Monk himself explains his choice of appropriation as artistic method by the realisation that being original was almost impossible, and that therefore he needed to use what was already available as source material. And while Monk does not directly reprise a piece by a given artist in The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH), it is indeed the connection between Richard Hamilton and his car that Monk handles with trademark irony. Demystification or derision of the artist figure is a constant in Monk’s practice. The iconic Porsche car, the fact that it may have belonged to a famous artist, and the effect of breaking its image down into pixels all create an ironic context which explores the contrast between the immediate accessibility of its image and its ungraspable deconstruction. The original function of representation is thus lost. The car disappears in its fragmentation, along with its owner, Richard Hamilton. The artist’s initial material has been narrowed down, shrunk to the impasse of the pixels.
The work of Jonathan Monk can be found in public and private collections around the world. He has exhibited extensively since the 1990s. His most recent shows include All the possible combinations of twelve lights lighting (one at a time) at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome, in 2015, and Jonathan Monk; The Project Space at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, in 2014. In 2013 his COLOURS, SHAPES, WORDS (pink, blue, square, circle, etc.) was put on at the CAC in Málaga. Other venues that have hosted his work include the Palais de Tokyo and Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (2008) and the Kunstverein, Hannover (2006).
The artist has conceived a publication to accompany this new exhibition at Blondeau & Cie.
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) I, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) II, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) III, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) IV, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) V, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) VI, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) VII, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) VIII, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) IX, 2016
Jonathan Monk, The Life Sized Black (a Porsche for RH) X, 2016
Jonathan Monk, An Accidental Purchase Embraced and Embellished II, 2016