JOHN REUSS' METICULOUSLY EXECUTED PAINTINGS OFFER A JOURNEY INTO THE SUBCONSCIOUS
MILIA WALLENIUS | ARTICULATE #19 | APRIL 2019
To Danish-German artist John Reuss (b. 1973) contrasts are the most important thing about a composition. In his paintings, contrasts are created with complementary colors and a sophisticated blend of soft, organic forms and hard, geometric shapes, fine lines and blurry brush strokes.
Reuss is a self-taught artist with a background in graphic layout and design. His preferred media is acrylic paint – a practical choice since the synthetic color dries fast and, therefore, allows the artist to paint additives in a relatively fast phase.
Sketching and drawing outlines directly on canvas is how Reuss usually begins his work. From here he goes on to build his compositions with multiple layers of paint, sometimes mixed with pencil and charcoal drawings. Both adding and removing elements, Reuss’ artistic process is as much about creating and constructing as it is about dismantling and tearing down.
Reuss’ drive generates from what he describes as a natural need to create. His works are seldom pre-thought and emerge as the result of his creative process. For Reuss this process is far more important than a finished product, resulting in him occasionally returning to work on already finished pieces.
Although Reuss often starts out with an initial idea or feeling of the piece ahead, he allows the concept to change and evolve over time. Much like the artists of the surrealist movement, Reuss is interested in the subconscious and its potential, believing that the creative process is the key to an inner world. This is reflected in his artistic method where he combines considered and controlled decisions with pure spontaneity and coincidence.
Reuss’ interest in psychology, cognitive mechanisms and the boundaries between conscious and subconscious are also present in his subject matter. The world depicted in his paintings does not represent a physical one, but rather reflects a surreal inner sphere – a place between dream and reality.
In Reuss’ work internal struggles, thoughts and feelings are laid bare. Emotions such as loneliness and alienation are often present along with existentialist themes related to the definition of self and its relation to the surrounding world.
When asked what inspires him, Reuss talks about sculptural art and works by artists such as Berlinde de Bruyckere and Christian Lemmerz. He also mentions David Lynch and his ability to shift between different disciplines and mediums.
Although Reuss sticks to painting there is no denying that his compositions hold a sculptural quality. His paintings are grotesque and brutal, yet there is something graceful about them and the way the solid limbs and disfigured bodies are positioned in relation the cool flat fields of color. The interplay between the figurative and the abstract creates a vibrant flow where the seemingly recognizable melts into the unknown, and vice versa.
“My motto, and end goal is that the composition has to make my eyes dance”, Reuss explains.
And dance they do, in an eerie, most haunting way
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