Curated by Giuseppe Pizzuto
Critical essay by Marta Silvi
JonOne (John Andrew Perello, 1963, New York, USA) is one of the most recognized contemporary artists in France today, and a key figure in the world of graffiti. He has shown in important galleries and in prestigious institutions alike, such as with the group shows Born in the Street at the Fondation Cartier and Le Tag Collection Gallizia at the Grand Palais (both in Paris in 2009). In addition, the artist boasts highly artistic and creative collaborations with renowned companies such as Guerlain, Air France, Lacoste, and Perrier.
Of Dominican origin and raised in Harlem, JonOne began doing graffiti on the walls of his neighbourhood at the age of 17 under the name Jon156, and in ’84 went on to found 156 All Starz, a notorious New York crew. Some years later he moved to Paris, the city where he currently lives and works, achieving international success with works of Fine Art. On January 1st, 2015, he was awarded the Legion of Honour from the French Republic, and his work Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité was inaugurated at the Palais Borbon, the seat of the French National Assembly.
The unique style that defines JonOne’s work, between Graffiti and Abstract Expressionism, derives from the combination of three fundamental elements: the calligraphic forms, the mastering of colour and the complex painting texture. Inspired by the dynamism and vitality of the city, the artist’s works emanate an extraordinary energy, thanks precisely to the continuous intersection of lines and the extreme brilliance of the colours used.
The founding concept of the show Predictably irrational stemmed from the reflection on the conflict between chaos and control; between that which we can foresee and the totally unexpected; between planning and improvisation. The dynamic that underlies these situations is part of everyone’s daily life: we try to control and to predict future events, but oftentimes these escape our control, and, vice-versa, in that which is unforeseeable we can equally find an explanation, a sense of order.
On one hand, the works of JonOne seem to emerge from a spontaneous, instinctive gesture that is free from every restriction, and yet the aesthetic composition is highly studied at the same time, with each intervention springing from a precise intention. On the other hand, the symmetry originating from the calligraphic repetition is constantly shaken by the powerful superimpositions of colours. JonOne metaphorically transfers life itself to his work, which can be seen as the result of the delicate equilibrium created by the opposition between chaos and control.
The exhibition showcased new artworks realized on canvas with acrylics and ink. The artist created the works specifically for the show at Wunderkammern.