Between two jump rope exercises to prepare for a friendly boxing match in his workshop-turned-ring, JonOne – painter-boxer who hits his canvases with color – explains: “My painting is physical, in action: there’s punch to it. It’s related to the the energy of the colors I saw on the painted trains in New York, like a flash of paint in the city. In the 1980s the subway was like a gallery that crossed the city. My style is related to this movement and the speed of painting. I like that people are destabilized and unbalanced in front of my paintings. When painting, I spit out the rage that’s in me.” Rage of the street, of painting (from Abstract Expressionism to graffiti in its less popular version: the tag), of origins (the mysterious Santo Domingo, the America of the crack years, the alternative Paris of the 1990s). Since the 1980s, the artist has emancipated himself from the classic canons of graffiti to turn to abstraction. Even when he saturates his paintings with tags now painted in oil – playing with the notions of high and low brow – JonOne summons the hardcore energy that comes from vandalism. He asserts: “It’s not what’s written that’s important in my work: writing, letters, it’s a pretext to be able to move on to another stage: light, color, energy, the movement of the body. Behind my name you find my past, my present and my future.”
A ‘Tout-Monde’ (‘One-World’) [*NB this a term coined by philosopher Edouard Glissant] artist, JonOne’s paintings stretch origins and time: from the beginnings of New-York Hip Hop and Subway Art to the renewal of the movement in Paris, notably in the heart of the legendary terrain of the Stalingrad quarter, from walls to canvas, from his first studio in the Hopital Ephémère squat, where agnès b had discovered him, to the one he now occupies in the Lilas quarter… Outside the frame, always moving and hands dirty, JonOne composes his paintings freestyle. He projects his paint so that it becomes material (sometimes rough as a ruined wall) and mixes the colors to obtain new luminous vibrations.
Extract of the text drafted for the catalog of the exhibition The Empire of the signatures (Clement Foundation, Martinique, 2017)
Video of the Exhibition
L'Empire des Signatures
From November, 10th 2017 to January, 01st 2018
Fondation Clément, Domaine de l'acajou, Le François 97240 - Martinique
novembre 10, 2017