Jonathan Meese & Michał Jankowski: Freedom to Freedom

Jonathan Meese & Michał Jankowski: Freedom to Freedom

TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art Szczecin

Jonathan Meese, Michał Jankowski, Freedom to Freedom, 2023. Mixed media on card, 21 x 29.7 cm. © Meese/Jankowski.

November 29, 2023
Jonathan Meese & Michał Jankowski
Freedom to Freedom
December 8, 2023–March 24, 2024
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Opening: December 7, 7pm
TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art Szczecin
Świętego Ducha 4
70-205 Szczecin
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–8pm,
Friday–Saturday 11am–9pm

T +48 91 400 00 49

Curators: Michał Markiewicz, Dagmar Schmengler
Coordinator: Anna Sienkiewicz-Rogaś

Initiating a dialogue through images, Jonathan Meese and Michał Jankowski do not focus on individual artworks. Instead, they concentrate on the cumulative effect of the paintings, resulting from their mutual influence. In a graffiti-like gesture, the artists leave self-comments on the walls, making a subversive reference to their trash art installation. They diffuse meanings in a non-obvious presentation composed of quasi-ritualistic painting ‘altars’. The interweaving works reveal entangled fantasies, dreams and nightmares, wrapping almost every aspect of existence. In an inverted and distorted reality, conscious viewers hear the sound of a hornet’s nest, discover the metaphorical meaning of the Lady-Melting-Pot or the symbolism of the boxing ring. They ponder on the question: are people most human when they indulge in play?

Jonathan Meese’s multimedia works captivate the audience with a Dadaist approach to reality and a critical view of social order. They contain a system of signs, neologisms, symbols and metaphors alluding to the motif of the lust for power and the characters consumed by it: mythical figures, ‘villains’ and ‘heroes’ extracted from the pages of history or pop culture, fictional protagonists. Meese’s activities in the field of art mirror his flagship idea of diktatur der kunst.

Michał Jankowski’s paintings are equally peculiar. The artist works in coherent cycles that evolve conceptually over the years. They often feature human-animal hybrids, human figures in ambiguous situations, monsters sewn together from organic remains, elements of the natural world and man-made objects. In an illusion-free manner, the artist vivisects the universe based on violence.

Meese and Jankowski disrupt the symbolic order, taking political and cultural pathetic hierarchies to the point of absurdity. In their autonomous aesthetics, they issue ‘red cards’ to all ideologies.

Jonathan Meese (born 1970) works with performance, installation, video art, sculpture, painting, theatrical set design and directing. His art balances between provocation and blasphemy, catharsis and exorcism, always in opposition to systemically ossified conventions. Meese has developed a unique idiom in each genre he works with, metabolically linking the styles of artistic expression. His trickster practice includes, among other things, an interpretation of Wagnerian opera in which he used sculpturally designed props and scenery. He has recently directed a theatre production to his own libretto Die MonoSau (Volksbühne, Berlin). He has created musical collages and collaborated with DJ Hell on the album Messe x Hell, featuring him as a vocalist. He has worked with a number of important artists such as: Daniel Richter, Tal R, Albert Oehlen, Jörg Immendorff.

Michał Jankowski’s (born 1977) works reveal a metaphorical game of destruction running its natural course. They are a narrative puzzle telling an intricate story. Jankowski’s early monochrome paintings resemble an underground emblem with an existential dimension. In his unique way, the artist reaches to the darker sides of European culture, its disturbing and fascinating aspects, full of multithreaded meanings. The viewers are immersed in the faces of their own—past or present demons, in the world of today and in the human history. Jankowski encourages us to rewrite our relationship with things and the manner in which we process them. His paintings are created through the full use of the painterly medium: precise in every detail, thoughtful with every brushstroke. Although Jankowski uses figurative forms, he always leaves an element of mysterious understatement, in which irony intermingles with pessimism.


The exhibition is the first presentation of Jonathan Meese’s multimedia works in Poland.

Supported by Stiftung für Deutsche-Polnische Zusammenarbeit Warsaw, Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa  im Rahmen der Oder-Partnerschaft and the City of Szczecin.

In collaboration with Sies + Höke gallery, Düsseldorf.

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TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art Szczecin
November 29, 2023

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