IMN #35 — tjo
It's Monday Night #35
Tonight, let’s share thoughts about @0xTjo's work: how did a surrealist-inspired media-mixed collage work lead to a radical pictorial upheaval - the emergence of a new color?
Between @0xTjo's early experimental mixed-media collages and the monochrome BLeU - which is not a monochrome at all, as we shall see - there seems to be a major stylistic break.
Therefore, we need to understand how the breakdown of @0xTjo's visual language could have occurred.
Tjo's early collages are a physical experimentation with various media: ink printing techniques, digital photographs, texts, paper layering, etc.
Sewing, superimposing, tearing, coloring, @0xTjo's collage method uses different operations in a unique mixture of rigor & freedom.
The principle of collage is simple: to create an original image by bringing together heterogeneous elements.
In a sense, it is close to automatic writing and has the advantage of giving a more direct access to the unconscious than figurative painting. It allows materials to be combined at high speed and without trying to control the manufacture of a shape too much.
The conscious self has no time to intervene in the process & artistic intuitions, analogies, contrasts, contexts are somehow self-generating.
It's as if the grammar or syntax of a sentence didn't precede the word & that each utterance was allowed to reinvent the whole language.
In @0xTjo's collage, the means determine the end, so the outcome is always partly unpredictable: the image that emerges is the result of a process that destroys usual associations of ideas, dominant contextualizations.
At the same time, this work on irrelevant contextualizations - which gives @0xTjo's collages their poetic character - is not chaotic.
@0xTjo has an aesthetic of accumulation, overload and saturation, but at the same time there is a great attention to composition - to the distribution and organisation of the fragments brought together in the work.
The balance or tension between the different media (text, photo, coloring, drawing, etc.) systematically leads to the emergence of a human figure.
To a certain extent, Tjo creates portraits.
@0xTjo fragments, destroys, renders illegible and unrecognizable the human form (face, identity, style, etc.) and, at the same time, he highlights what survives this process of fragmentation: a deeply divided, but violently erotic and colorful being.
It is a tattered, dislocated self that Tjo represents. He shows the effect on subjectivity of post-modern cultural norms: postcard photographs, supermodel bodies, the socially accepted language of love, etc.
Each collage is a palimpsest: a writing on a writing, which at the same time covers, deteriorates, resists and affirms the possibility of a messy lyricism.
From the crack springs the color, the drooling ink, the little child's drawings, the scribble, the raw formal irruption.
Into the crack rushes madness, the subject's depression - the psychotic loss of the world; or else what stands up to it, in spite of everything: the creation of an idiocy - that language which only the idiot understands and which thwarts all stereotypes.
It's a fragile, dangerous balance - the tearing apart of desire and language lurks, as evidenced by the colorful but discrete omnipresence of anti-depressants.
The second phase of his work bears the traces of this strict collage work but takes a very different stylistic direction: @0xTjo gives an increasingly important place to an analogical painting gesture.
Torsion of bodies, monstrosity of faces or masks hiding faces, all Tjo's characters seem to be called by the ground, trapped by an inexorable falling movement. They each have their own way of not standing, either because their bodies twist or because the space becomes distorted.
These are characters that are both haunting and haunted: ghosts pursued by their own shadow.
There is a melancholic aggressiveness in them, whose vulnerability is exacerbated by the abstract space (checkerboard floor in irregular perspective, washed-out monochrome background, etc.) that deprives the viewer of any "realistic" reference point.
Much could be said about the content of these scenes - she re-enacts different aspects of sentimental life in an extremely stylized way: the conflict, the feeling of abandonment, the formless monstrosity of desire, etc.
But what interests me here is the progressive appearance, at first secondary and then more and more essential, of the color blue. Not just any blue. There is a history of blue in @0xTjo's work, which is still to be written.
Blue appears early in the artist's collages. Azure blue, very clear, aquatic, of magazine. Then it reappears in the background, washed out, not very singularized, put in opposition with another chromatic value - the orange.
From 1 work to another, we see this blue occupying a less & less marginal/peripheral place.
On the 1 hand, the color is fixed, precise, gains in consistency & intensity; on the other hand,it extends, it colors everything, until the checkerboard on the ground, of its bluish aura.
Blue conquers a freedom, an autonomy more and more great, which expresses alone more and more nuances, passions, emotions, wickedness, seduction.
It is neither a coincidence nor an accident that this phase of @0xTjo's work results in a monochrome: BLeU. The color triumphs over everything, contours, volumes, scenes, etc.
Of course, it is difficult not to see a quotation or at least a direct reference to Klein's blue.
A comparison that is both true and too partial. Like Klein's blue, BLeU is not a monochrome: it is a blue that is inhabited by a multitude of blues, it is a blue with multiple radiations.
The color advances towards the spectator, with all its nuances, it absorbs them and envelops them with its folds, its reliefs, etc.
Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the different periods in Tjo's work: Tjo's blue belongs to the history of Tjo's artistic practice, a history that only superficially overlaps with Klein's.
Moreover, through tokenization, @0xTjo's BLeU realizes, in a sense, Klein's old promise: a truly immaterial color, a metaphysical entity, universal and singular, infinite.
The question I ask myself then is whether @0xTjo has entered a period of exclusively monochromatic work on blue (for what other color could emerge at this point?)...
...and under what conditions a return to more figurative work would be possible (for how could the BLeU event make room again for more realistic space or characters?).
The future will tell us.