Axel Jonsson (born 1991 in Sweden), studied at the Gerlesborgsskolan in Stockholm (2012–2014) and from 2014 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He graduated in the class of Daniel Richter in November 2020. His first solo exhibition Butter In The Eyes (03–04.2021) took place at [tart vienna], projectspace by Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman Vienna.
Exhibitions (selection): 2022 Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Innsbruck A (solo); 2021 Ka Tschick ist an, Raum für Kunst Halle e.V., Halle GER; Lifting Bizarre, Desiderio, Vienna A; Duo show with Michael Kienzer, Parallel Vienna 2021, Vienna A; Butter In The Eyes, [tart vienna], Vienna A (solo); 2020 The Loser Show, Therapy Press, Vienna A; 2019 Come By More Often And Be So Tender, Pina, Vienna A; If We Build It They Will Come, Zollamt Studios, Offenbach am Main GER; 2017 Tragic Stone Beach, Pferd, Vienna A.
Prizes: 2021 One Year Working Grant, Swedish Arts Grants Committee; 2020 Eva & Hugo Bergmans Minnesfond; 2019 Ragnar and Birgit Åhléns Foundation for Art Dalarna; 2019 Cultural Scholarship of the Municipality of Falu.
Jonsson’s colorful style of painting is characterized by a highly illustrative figuration that is thematically charged with a variety of symbols and references. The themes of his pictures are often narratives and clichés that have been taken to the point of absurdity. Even formalistic components such as perspective and composition or the physicality of the figures testify to an exaggeration of the circumstances, which are based on a precise observation of the human environment and reflect this humorously and lovingly.
“As in the setting of a suspenseful Western, it is the big and small moments of decision, the brief moments of human deliberation, that Axel Jonsson elaborates as motifs. Any movement, no matter how timid, can be a trigger or set a nonspecific action in motion. This applies to the brute thigh-birth of the god Dionysus as well as to the sudden launch of a motorboat in dark waters.
Drawing on cultural textual and visual traditions, Jonsson traverses the conceptual narratives of the Western world: Pop culture, coming-of-age scenes, Greek and Northern mythology, the Western, or the European Middle Ages, in order to transpose them into the contemporary present. In doing so, despite the figurative realism, Jonsson is not concerned with elaborating thematic narrative formats or questions of representation. Although the picture ensembles are related to each other, resulting in a choreography of painting, they refuse a formal ordering context.
Jonsson uses the specificity of the painting medium as a strategy to engage in aesthetic observation of human actions, interactions, and relationships. The focus is on careful movements, the careful extraction of gestures and facial expressions, the modeling of ideal-typical body images. In doing so, Jonsson uses a naïve, illustrative style of painting, despite his precise brushwork, which does not place him in the register of either homage or criticism. The juxtaposition of singular physical features in the paintings is also striking. Veins, chins, and Adam’s apples take on plastic dimensions and give the figures androgynous features. They seem to rest within themselves, performing only slow stoic movements. This allows the operative construction of the arc of tension to be felt on a symbolic level as well, thereby playing with the viewer’s expectations in that way, so that at the decisive moment — at high noon — both, the formal and narrative level advertise for the paradigm of an open ending.” (excerpt, Florentine Rungrama Muhry, December 2022)