Jwan Yosef, portrait
JWAN YOSEF, Object, 2018
Oil on linen, 188 x 132 cm / 74 x 52 in
Curated by Joakim Andreasson and Brianna Bakke
In collaboration with Praz Delavallade
Realized by Calle Henzel
IN THE PRESS
Architectural Digest, by Rima Suqi
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Jwan Yosef’s works explore both formalism and autobiographical themes, with a conceptual undertaking that queers the principles of modernist aesthetics. Yosef’s tactical use of abstraction serves opportunities to release entendres and challenge viewers to break from passive gazes towards a plurality of perspectives.
Whether fixating on the materiality or language of an object, Yosef’s inspirations draw from the potentialities of states of being. The core of this fixation engages a reexamining of functions, routines and expectations of artistic gestures, materials and their interpreted values. Yosef invites the vernacular of everyday materials to a re-thinking of possibilities—a poetic exercise that extracts the many metaphors and biases society projects on familiar effects. The potency of Yosef’s endeavors ultimately refines a poignant and lucid reminder of our own relationships and interpretations of the everyday world and each other.
The exhibited works in Jwan Yosef’s Object / Object are no redundancy. A selfdescribed conceptual painter, Yosef’s works are attentive to the formal values that physically shape a work of art, yet more readily discourses the language constructs inherent to the social and psychological processes of projecting and interpreting objects. In the case of Object / Object, Yosef invites us to examine the dimensionality of the ubiquitous term’s many façades and functions—from the anonymity of its description as a noun to its performance as a radically actionoriented verb. Mirroring the transitory states of this word unfolds Yosef’s Object series. The objects here hold no singular identity. At once painting and sculpture, the works subtly introduce a limbo of being. While the pulling action of the artist’s hand can be interpreted as an iconoclastic or even violent maneuver, the gesture is performed as a revelatory exercise, which Yosef describes as an “undressing of the canvas.” The canvas’ cor oreality reveals its naked anatomy, expressing a most sensual disrobing. With the painting’s interior elements bared, grids of threaded linen are exposed, and the limbs of the stretcher bars posture a new relaxed silhouette. The façade of the canvas, fortified with gesso and white paint, holds a sculptural form reminiscent of the folds of wet drapery carved in Greco-Roman frieze figures. The undressing gesture transforms the painting into sculpture or an entity existing in-between. This transfigurative quality of the Object series engenders allegorical poetics to each painting’s essence—as an objection, as an objectification, as an art object. Each iteration examines mark-making manifested in folding, tucking, pulling, concealing, and preserving the visual planes—indexing the artist’s hand in grappling meaning within the lexicons of minimalism, to ultimately dialogue the power dynamics that instigate objectification.
Yosef continues his deconstruction of the entendres of both material and language in his Masking series. In this series, Yosef employs the utilitarian material of tape, and its familiarity as a quotidian binding material for quick-fixes, asa n artist’s material to mask edges and render perfect lines, and even as a bondage material for kink (a playful wink to minimalist aesthetics’ affinities for surface “fetish”). Yosef i sdrawn to this ready-made material that is fraught with varying applications and contexts. With considered site-specific installations, Yosef tautly applies the tape —floor to eciling—drawing contours that alter the space’s interior horizon lines and bodily experience. Whether disrupting the figurative neutrality of white gallery walls or juxtaposing fraguht histories by using the edges of the material to compose chiaroscuro-style cascades alongside the architectural motifs of the Italian basilica, Basilica di Santa Maria in Montesanto Chisea degli Artisti
in Rome — Yosef cleverly coaxes the material’s liminal nature, illustrating an unexpected prominence of a most simple material. Yosef is also drawn to the ephemeral quality of the material and describes the aspects of time and chance with the experience of the work:
The duality of the stretched duct tape has many forms in my mind, the idea of sexually being tied up and the contrasting form of near abduction-style restraint. The work plays with the thin line between sex and violence. This series too resists a single identity. The very strict, stretched form it takes on from wall to floor, however taut, holds an ephemeral quality where tensions ultimately meet temporality. A durational element comes into play and we see how quickly it can become a flaccid and torn object, dangling off the wall.
- Jwan Yosef
Yosef further engages the language of the material with his play on the artwork’s titles, Electrical, Masking, Duct and Painter’s, carrying double meanings that stretch beyond their signified and intended utility. For Jwan Yosef’s collaboration with Henzel Studio, Yosef invited yet another transfiguration of the work. Henzel transforms the work into uniquely editioned handwoven rugs inspired by the disruptive minimalism and elegant contours of Yosef’s Masking series.
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