Jur de Vries

Jur de Vries. Still Life 2021.

The middle section of the triptych Jur de Vries (1987) is presenting at Prospects tells two stories. In the background a hairy leg, obviously severed from the body, is standing on a tiled floor. And if that wasn’t enough, the shinbone is also being attacked by an axe. More towards the front, a sausage is lying on a tray; it is clutching a cigarette between its folds and — judging from the empty bottles — has had quite a lot to drink. The moral of these two stories is that both self-destruction and the wicked deeds of others may result in the same gloomy end.

In his work, De Vries is searching for the tension between nihilism and relativity. This sense of relativity is represented in the shape of a little sun shining its light across the fatalistic still life depicted on the middle panel. The style of painting employed by De Vries propagates a sense of lightness as well: “I paint in a cartoon-like style that reminds me of the cartoons I watched during my childhood and experienced as very upbeat.”

When De Vries was told his work was reminiscent of paintings by the artists Philip Guston, he started to doubt himself: “Although I do consider it a compliment, at the same time I would prefer my work to be mainly my own.” He decided to make two companion pieces, each showing a burning cigarette, a regularly recuring prop in Guston’s paintings. De Vries is thus appropriating this comparison in a lighthearted way.

Text: Jorne Vriens

Translation from Dutch to English: Marie Louise Schoondergang