Jonathan Meyer was born in Santa Cruz, California in 1966. He studied Architecture and Engineering at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, graduating in 1990.

He then moved to London to work as an architect, having several small projects built. Between 1992 and 1994 he was apprenticed to the painter Philip Hughes and also worked on projects with Tom Phillips (A Humument: Variants and Variations).

Jonathan Meyer began working on his own paintings whilst teaching architectural design at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. Many of the ideas developed in the teaching work crossed over into studio production, and vice versa. Most notable was a year spent examining the relations between bird and animal migration in the natural world and the conventional understanding of boundary and territory in architecture. Subsequent topics developed through the following teaching years were camouflage, mimicry and evolutionary niche adaptation.

He left the Bartlett to become a full time artist in 1997 and his work continues to be informed by the natural sciences and their (sometimes very oblique) influences on and interactions with people, books, music, buildings, tourism, commerce, computers and popular culture. His studio is in Bethnal Green, London.

His most recent solo show was with Frameless Gallery in London. He previously had three one-man shows at Beardsmore Gallery also in London and has had several solo shows on the continent, including two at the Galerie Pascal Lainé. He has also participated in many group shows and contemporary art fairs internationally. His work is held in private and corporate collections in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, USA, Japan, Korea and Australia.
 


ARTIST’S STATEMENT(S):


2000

I have always found beauty in attempts to organise complex information, attempts that by definition are bound to fail. A map is an elaboration of facts about a landscape and is often an elegant document, but it will always remain only an elaboration. This is not to say that it is not useful, but eventually it will have to compromise, to tell tall tales and half truths. When faced with the actual complexity and subtlety that surrounds us, the geographer draws boundaries where others see none, as do the taxonomist and the artist.

We must always negotiate with information and the fruits of these negotiations will be errors, faults, surprises, concessions, happy coincidences, omissions and many ‘grey’ areas. These are the fruits that will continue to fuel my work.

 

2002

I tend to think of works in progress as populations in a state of flux. The work I do helps them to achieve some kind of stasis, a finished work fixing them in a certain configuration. These populations are usually made up of scraps, half-facts, non sequiturs, numbers, bits: the flotsam and jetsam of lives lived. Our living is the glue that holds these crowds together; we cannot escape taxonomy.

Yet when we set out to apply taxonomy, to somehow order and make sense of things, we are often left in a very grey area. I believe that things themselves hold truths, but when they are subjected to exterior forces these truths can easily be obscured or stretched into new entities. In a sense, it is my intention to let this happen. For the moment, I am happy to be caught between the act of looking and the act of telling.

 

2004

It is probably safe to say that glue is central to my work. I use glue to stick things down, but I also use it to stop a thing from doing what it was doing before it became stuck down.

Things stuck down are changed in an almost alchemical sense: They are given a completely new context, reframed, and as if suspended in amber become something else, developing new identities which in turn can develop relationships with other things. These new sets of relationships become the stuff of the paintings. But just as an exhibit of butterflies pinned to a velvet covered panel is no longer really about the life of a creature and its fluttering path between flowers, it also cannot ever completely exclude that (previous) life.

Back to glue, my work roughly divides into two categories. Both are collage but they differ in their respective ratios between the ‘colle’ and the ‘collé’, the glue and the things being stuck. The “casts” are collage where the recipe has gone awry: there is a surfeit of glue and the ‘collés’ find themselves not simply fixed but immersed in it, set in solidified space. I like this process because there is much more opportunity for things to “go wrong”.

After the collage has been stuck, or the cast set, the picture is then selectively masked by layers or veils of paint (which is itself nothing but pigment suspended in glue) to emphasize or obscure various of the new relationships between its inhabitants, prompting or discouraging conversation as the case may be. At this point, I can recede and leave them to it.

 

2006

I have always looked at the detritus of our eveyday existence as a source of both horror and inspiration. My recent work examines the ubiquity of packaging in its many varied guises in contemporary life. The more typical collage pieces focus primarily on the role of packaging as that which increases the desire for the enclosed object - we are enticed to get to what is inside, and once this function has been fulfilled the package is rendered rudundant and is ready to be discarded. (There is also an oblique fascination with things that have snuck into the language of packaging: the barcode, the recycling symbol, the dried dollop from the glue-gun, etc.). The casts make use of elements of packaging that are more to do with its role as that which protects the enclosed object from destruction or decay: tamper-evident bands, vacuum sealed pressure indicators, gaskets and fasteners are collected and arrayed, suspended in dried acrylic. In both techniques, the discarded remnants are selectively overpainted to create the subject of each piece, which could be said in all cases to be the relationship between surface and substrate.

 

2007

After a bracing dip in the Southern Indian Ocean, the 45 minute walk from Yallinup through the bush to my temporary studio is the best way yet I have found to start a working day. It differs from my trip to work back in London in significant ways: instead of cycling through drizzle and traffic fumes, ever alert for an outsize pothole or vicious minivan driver, my full attention is drawn to roving bands of birds fliting through the banksia and marri, the relentless light, my 'human-ness' as I move through an environment pristine and intact; instead of stopping for a coffee on the way in (not that this is an option here), I have started to just sit down and listen for a few minutes every once in awhile. Aside from the faint rumblings of a very occasional and distant truck, I can't hear anything man-made, except for my breath.

At first, this was disarming - I was afraid of getting seriously lost, of snakebite or a twisted ankle - but my fear has gone now; I'm ready to work.