World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 80 – Jacob
I visit Jacob’s studio in Rotterdam. In a few weeks time he’ll have an exhibition in Barcelona with the J & B collective. They put the final touches on a number of drawings, sculptures and installations. Everything on the left side of the studio will go to Barcelona. The right side of the studio is the ‘laboratory’ with drawings, and a work based on a cover of The Economist about science and economics.
On the work a pill is shown, a mixture of bacteria, and other examples of the combination of science and economics. Jacob is a physicist graduate and did about five years of scientific work. He even has a number of patents to his name, he says.
Jacob: “A good scientist realizes that he only knows very little. There are entire worlds we’ve never seen. Recently it became known that the Higgs particle, nicknamed God’s particle, ‘exists’. Scientists hope they can continue from that basis. The Higgs particle is of course a metaphor. It is about processes, energy fields. We yearn for explanations of the unknown. Previously, we expected that from God, now from science.”
Incidentally, Jacob’s website is Jacob.Gd. Does that have anything to do with God? “Everyone can choose how he interprets Gd. There are at least three possibilities: 1) Grand Dieu, 2) God Damned, or 3) Google Decides!”
In Jacob’s work we see worlds we do not recognize, with strange shapes and figures. He himself speaks about ‘unknown images’. Those are not necessarily abstract images. “A geometric abstract painting can be much more familiar than a portrait with a twist. How we see things is really determined by perception and experience. Unknown images challenge us. Do we see it as a threat or as an opportunity?”
Jacob develops computer software that he uses for his work. He mixes digital photos to get a large variety of digital paints. We walk to a large painting with lots of blues, hanging to the far left on the opposite wall. “I have created software for mixing paint, brushing paint, even to scrape.” The work also has texture and shadow. It even has a somewhat classical feel. “I use the whole Renaissance trick book to create volume, space and depth.”
We go to the works that Jacob made within the J & B collective, which will go to Barcelona as an installation. J & B work with the Vanitas theme, which both means vanity and decay. We see a beggar on the floor, sitting on newspapers, which – when we look closely – are pages of the Financial Times. Is this a victim of the financial crisis? He is wearing a suit, worn and frayed to the point of falling apart. There’s a spoon in his pocket. ‘The Beggar’ is the title of this work. Jacob: “It refers to the painting ‘The Pedlar’ by Hieronymus Bosch, as well as to Western complacency. We in Europe, in the West, feel we know what is good for the rest of the world. We determine what and how the world consumes. And we find its remains on the street. Garbage bags, pizza boxes, stickers, beverage cans, trash. “Looking around I now notice in the installation many cans, all of J&B. And a lot of flies. Also on an artwork on the wall. “The flies we had made in Italy, by a glass maker. They are made of Murano glass.”
Not only Hieronymus Bosch features in the background, also Willem Claesz Heda, a painter from the Golden Age specialized in still life’s in the Vanitas tradition. With his paintings of tables with goblets, hams, lemons, cheeses and skulls he commented on the abundance of the Golden Age. J & B have translated the Vanitas tradition into contemporary works. Screen printed garbage bags in yellow and gray, recreated protest signs of Occupy, a Spanish protest against the economic disasters in that country in another garbage bag, various stickers, Darth Vader from Star Wars, capitals OXI (‘No’ in Greek) with a big euro sign, a banner with a ‘crusader’ and what looks like a veiled woman. “That banner was paraded around not long ago in Rotterdam.”
There is a wooden crate that functions as a base for a concrete sculpture. Jacob: “That sculpture is somewhat older, but fits well in here.”Inside the wooden crate I see pizza boxes. Which may be deposited by the beggar. Maybe that crate is the storage space for the few things that the beggar possesses. The very realistic pizza boxes are drawings with protest signs as images on it.
Jacob: “We comment on society with a bit of a smile. We are mirroring. As a kind of court jesters. We see beauty in decay, even in moral decay. That is not always appreciated.”
The J & B collective started one and a half years ago. They physically work together; one does not recognize who made which part of a work. “Working together makes you more critical. But you also have more skills, more opportunities. You are stretched, in ideas, themes, approaches and quality. And you also have two networks.” Apart from Barcelona a solo exhibition will take place at Gallery Zerp. And there will be a book publication about J & B early 2017.
1) J&B#2, 2) The fly, 3) Pizzabox detail, 4) OXI, 5) J&B, Locs Clones de Yuppie ( Tela Povera), 6) Deutsche Bank, 7) Beggar Banker, 8) Prosperity, 9) Jacob Inconcrete (Organ), 10) Jacob – Unknown, 11) Jacob – My brother’s demons, 12) Inconcrete, 13) Break free entropy