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It Came From a Pine Box: John Jacobsmeyer at Gallery Poulsen

 John Jacobsmeyer, Zombie Senate, 2015, oil on canvas, 213 x 274 cm, image courtesy of Gallery Poulsen, Copenhagen
 

John Jacobsmeyer
It Came From a Pine Box 
Gallery Poulsen, Copenhagen DK

By OTTILIE LANDMARK, FEB. 2015

     “It Came From a Pine Box” is John Jacobsmeyer’s first solo exhibition in Copenhagen at Gallery Poulsen in the Meatpacking District, Vesterbro. W
ood remains a constant theme in Jacobsmeyer’s work and every motive is expressed with this material. The exhibit consists of Jacobsmeyer’s paintings and woodcuts where we are invited inside a young man’s private world, and even a visit inside an absurd Senate chamber. As a child John Jacobsmeyer grew up near a wooded area and built clubhouses for play. He would later use these carpentry skills to build lofts for live/work spaces, and then use the same woodworking techniques for his art. 

     Although he also works in different mediums, the same environments are repeated from different angles, as would be seen from a camera. We are the voyeur and Jacobsmeyer has the “power” to give us access. The featured figures are not aware that we are watching them and therefore it feels as if we are violating a private sphere. This is especially evident in the “teenage rooms” such as the painting "John Jacob-Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt” (2011) and the woodcut "John Jacob-Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt" (2014) which reflect the typical introversion - a place no one else should enter.

     The contrast between the “teenage rooms” and the “Senate” has an internal and untold connection. Jacobsmeyer transfers typical elements from a teenager’s mind into a fantasy scene in the painting “Zombie Senate” and adds some serious themes from the 21st Century. He has worked on the painting “Zombie Senate” for 8 years, and in Gallery Poulsen the painting has the feeling of a major work.  “Zombie Senate” is a mix of different references to pop culture, politics, humor and storytelling. In the painting, some of the most striking motifs are the 37 presidents; representatives from “Occupy Wall Street”; ice hockey players and a dog (a motif that appears in other paintings). Ellen Ripley from the film “Alien”, zombies, robots, opium poppies, and something that could represent either the hand of God, Monty Pyton’s hand, or the artist’s hand also enter Jacobsmeyer’s scenes.

     His tableau has some humorous and at the same time, dark aspects - the opium poppies and skeleton/zombies reference war in the Middle East and suggests the role politicians play in sustaining these terrors. But who is paying attention in the midst of all this chaos?  It’s like a circus without a ringmaster. In the center stands Ellen Ripley reading from a book, while Mr. Smith from the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” lays on the floor, helpless and defeated - who or what is being governed? 

     Is this an “adult” world from a teenager’s point of view or Jacobsmeyer’s perspective? Or exactly what is the filter we are seeing through in these enigmatic works? It could be a mix of John Jacobsmeyer’s own experiences from his early life and some of the most relevant themes of the 21st Century. WM

 

 

 

Ottilie Landmark

 

Ottilie Landmark is an Art History student from Copenhagen. Besides freelance work as a curator, she has been the project manager of The Daily, the official newspaper of Copenhagen Fashion Week and completed stints in PR for designer Freya Dalsjø and Trailerpark Festival in Copenhagen. Ottilie believes in life after love, in horseback riding and in women.

Photo credit: Thomas Degner

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