South African artist JP Meyer’s current INITIATE exhibition opened earlier this month at this year’s Afrikaans language event series (http://sun.ac.za) called the “WORD FESTIVAL” (WOORDFEES) in a solo exhibition during the festival which happens from 4 – 13 March 2016. The University of Stellenbosch outside of Capetown, South Africa hosts the festive and the exhibition serves as a retrospective of the artist’s work that represents the transitional phases in life–those social initiations that mark membership, sameness, belonging and milestones of sometimes pleasant, sometimes painful life experiences.
As artist J.P. Meyer related, “In preparation for the show I was reflecting specifically on my own initiation into University life as a “freshman” (as I think you call it). I remembered the rituals like the running of gauntlets, competitions, humiliating activities and other rites of passages which I was subjected to in order to earn a rightful place as a first year university student. This is loosely the theme of my exhibition which is called INITIATE. Most, but not all of the work for the show explores the transition from adolescent into adulthood– theme of discovering oneself, sexuality, positioning oneself in relation to peers, the need to belong and choices that we make.”
“A number of works deal with physicality, endurance, strength and degrees of comparison amongst males,” says J.P. Meyer, who described his painting titled PLUNGE, as, “less serious and in a literal kind of way plays with trust that is earned and extended within the context of groups. When I was younger it was very important to be fully accepted into certain groups, organizations, teams etc.”
“Water is an important element in most of the works and a reference to baptism, rebirth, renewal, purification, etc.”
Meyer manipulates images for his artworks that come from childhood photographs, magazines, encyclopedias, the internet and other vintage images, especially those of 1st and 2nd World War soldiers.
“I like to print and re-photograph the images, manipulate them on the computer and then use it as reference. Whilst painting I often use the programs on my phone to enhance color possibilities which then become a visual references,” says Meyer of his art-making process.
Meyer ‘s contemporary works incorporate photographic images from a bygone era and the use of these images as key reference can be traced to influences from the work of famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) and the art of the so-called Cluj school of Romania, an art movement that originally developed in the nineteen-eighties.
“THE AUDITION is a reference to the silly spectacles which we had to perform as freshman on the command of senior students and as entertainment for them.”
“The painting VOW, for example, is a contemplation on the repercussion of vows taken and broken and how it shaped and molded me.” J.P. Meyer
If you’d like to connect with J.P. Meyer you can fine him on Facebook here.