JONATHAN MEYER, Beardsmore Gallery, London, view 1, October - November 2008
JONATHAN MEYER, Beardsmore Gallery, London, view 2, October - November 2008
JONATHAN MEYER, Beardsmore Gallery, London, view 3, October - November 2008
JONATHAN MEYER, Beardsmore Gallery, London, view 4, October - November 2008
JONATHAN MEYER, Beardsmore Gallery, London, view 5, October - November 2008

Press release:

For his fourth solo show in London, UK-based American visual artist Jonathan Meyer has produced a body of paintings, sculptures and photographs that chronicle an 8-month residency in the southwest corner of Australia near Margaret River. While there, Meyer engaged with the seed-pods and bones at his feet, on a sturdy sandy soil that reverberated with the thumps of kangaroos a half mile away. Described by the artist as ‘reanimated bushwrack’, all of the artwork is based on found objects, mostly botanical material, from the very particular and eccentric natural world that is endemic to the region. Isolated as it is by the Western desert on one side and the Indian and Southern Oceans on the other, the area abounds with examples of the gigantic and the primitive that are the subject of Jonathan’s often humorous, and sometimes disturbing, treatments.

Meyer has always worked on found objects - namely packaging - and always within the expanded repertoire of collage. In the pieces that make up this show, this practice is combined with his deep interest in natural history, which to date has been kept somewhat separate from the artificial ecologies of discarded materials he has previously engaged with. Thus in the Incertae sedis works, the found objects are instead botanical and faunal packaging, and the collage constructions are three dimensional painted assemblages.


The show addresses the extreme alienation central to the colonial experience in the immersive Australian bush - the plants are all similar but also uncannily different from European flora. Their collective presence is distinctly foreign. Jonathan talks of first going into the bush to look at it – only to discover that he felt like he was the one being watched. In many of the pieces and images the status of the subject hovers somewhere undeclared between flora and fauna, miniature and giant, predatory and vulnerable: ‘Incertae sedis’ is the taxonomic term given to something when you don't know where it fits.


Originally trained as an architect, Jonathan's story is quite unique, as is his homage to the uncanny nature of a former world. It taps into the sense of both anxious awe and comedy that the 19th Century writer Sydney Smith identified when he looked at 'nature' in Australia in 1918 and wrote: “She makes cherries with the stone on the outside; and a monstrous animal, as tall as a grenadier, with the head of a rabbit and a tail as big as a bed post”. This is nature that unlike that of the old world seems to 'have a bit of play, and amuse herself as she pleases'.


'Incertae Sedis' is at the Beardsmore Gallery, Oct 15 - Nov 15, 2008. The gallery has published a full-color catalogue Incertae sedis to accompany the exhibition, with an essay by Michele Field. 



click here to download exhibition catalogue essay by Michele Field