For his fifth solo show at Casey Kaplan, Berlin-based, British artist, Jonathan Monk, will present a new body of work that takes shape from key principles of Conceptual art—the favoring of ideas over object-making, serialism, the dematerialization of the art object—interpreting them with a playful sensibility and through a variety of media: 16mm film, slide projections, painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and a laser-light installation. Combining influences from popular culture and art history with snippets of personal history and autobiography, the works on exhibit offer a personal and humorous twist on the aesthetic practices and artistic concepts of the1960’s and 1970’s.
Using Sol LeWitt’s 1970’s series of incomplete, open cubes as a point of departure, Monk’s The New Sculpture is a variation of the original that cleverly explores both the playful and logical aspects of the geometric form. In his version, Monk uses the sculpture as a dressing room complete with a mirror, shoes, and pair of red trousers. Ironically, the structure itself remains unpainted and naked.
Similarly, in The Reason for the Neutron Bomb, Monk’s painted Volkswagen hood sculpture pays homage to Chris Burden’s performance piece, Transfixed (1974) for which the artist was infamously crucified over the rear section of a VW automobile. In the case of Monk, the forked Peace symbol adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has been affixed to a yellow VW hood additionally referring to another one of Burden’s installation pieces, The Reason for the Neutron Bomb (1979), which consisted of 50,000 nickels with matchstick tips glued to them, arranged in tight rows across the floor of the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York. The tank for tank reconstruction was intended to represent the enormous 50,000-strong Soviet tank force that was placed along the border between Western and Eastern Europe at the time. The combined tank fleet from the United States and all of the western European forces was outnumbered more than two to one. If this numerical imbalance was considered to be a prime reason behind the military’s promotion of the neutron bomb, Monk’s emblem of peace is a playful reconciliation.