Jonathan Syme (b. 1978, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) received his BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design. His art practice includes painting, sculpture and installation works. Syme currently lives and works in Vancouver, BC.
Jonathan Syme creates tactile and colourful paintings that highlight materiality, engage with abstraction and evoke a sensation of process and movement. Recently, his body of work has produced a maturation of material profundity and handcrafted traditions of framing that reverberates a hands-on, malleable approach to image making. Titled Adult Contemporary, this new exhibition at Monte Clark, open from June 1 to July 3, makes a conscious effort to initiate new ruptures in previously structured investigations into texture, layer, form and frame.
Intended to provoke circulatory definitions of Contemporary Painting, the title itself implies a diffusion of certain histories around retired notions of the avant-garde while retaining a sense of urgency and agency through matured, chromatic harmonies. Like Contemporary Music, these highly complex yet balanced compositions are situated in a quest for comfort but resist the stasis of familiarity and routine. The result is what the artist describes as a limited or “phantom” perception of what we think we know about currents in today’s art-contexts. This work is intuitive, psychedelic, and sophisticated, without rehashing popular trends or histories of Modernism.
His consideration of material provides an indispensable understanding and irreverent knowledge of form, skill and trade. “We all have our little treasures, but a heavy hand is in danger of outshining, wounding, or covering it.” While he acknowledges that these paintings are built to be a unification between the frame and the artwork, the frame itself, is in fact, a dependent variable in response to the painting within. In other words, the unification of the two elements encourages a reification of the hand-made object. The nature of their relationship allows for explorations of hallucinogenic colour to permeate the boundaries between frame and edge, while extrapolating the dynamics of the figure-ground relationship.
Jonathan Syme’s gestural and atmospheric works break away from placid and untimely restrictions of the past without succumbing to tropes by utilizing agitation as a moniker for the ambiguous mysteries of working with oil paint today. Whether regarded as internalized landscapes or projected spirit-scapes, the openness of his works lends itself to visceral and highly charged transmutations of spiritual inquiry designed to stand the mysteries of time- space.
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