Sven ‘t Jolle’s work is a humorous and impassioned critique of capitalism. He engages social, political, cultural and art historical aspects in his work. 't Jolle fuses together historical references and citations from everyday life to create new and eloquent constellations of images, forms and ideas. His work explores the values of contemporary society, addressing with understated humour its inequalities. His visual idiom is informed by both art history and popular culture, for example by the Belgian cartoons of his youth, masterpieces of twentieth-century painting or archaeological artefacts. He also plays with language, mixing catchphrases and proverbs as he moves between different languages and registers.
More than 6 months after his major and acclaimed solo show at the Brussels art center WIELS, Sven 't Jolle, who lives and works in Australia, is back in Belgium. The exhibition at PLUS-ONE Gallery, entitled Collecting dust, drawings & debt is divided into two parts and spread across two locations. It combines drawings and sketches with old and new sculptural installations, thus providing a unique insight into the artist's way of thinking and working.
In the new gallery at 'Nieuw Zuid', the first part of the exhibition - Collecting drawings - illustrates the importance of drawing in the artist's oeuvre. Here, it becomes clear that drawing is primarily a form of communication for 't Jolle and a way to convey all kinds of ideas. A series of drawings that the artist made his son a few years ago is a good example of this. In the series entitled Great Regression Epic, father and son 't Jolle challenge the supposed generation conflict by means of an eclectic army of warriors. The series refers both to the return to childhood and to the deteriorated economic situation that struck the Western world since the 1980s.
In addition, the artist's sketchbooks and the related online project, 100 Sketchbooks, are also on view. It comprises page-by-page scans of all his sketchbooks over the course of two decades, from 1995 to 2016. These reveal his working process, his reworking of ideas, forms, motifs, titles, or puns. (Http://sketchbooks-sventjolle.net/)
In the gallery space in Berchem, the second part of the exhibition - Collecting dust - is presented. Old and new sculptural works bring a reflection on the value of 'doing nothing' and refer to the status of art objects in a depot at the same time. A new sculptural ensemble in which a cleaning lady is lying behind a sofa, reflects on the imagery and the connotation of 'standstill' or 'non-active'. From the perspective of the polish cleaning woman, collecting dust can be a very intensive labor.
Sven 't Jolle
Collecting Dust, Drawings & Debt
Artist Talk at M HKA