In occasion of the opening of Jean Tinguely’s Mengele-Dance of Death (1986) – a fourteen-part mechanical sculpture installed in a new purpose-built exhibition space, the French artist is awakening the undead with a collection of vibrant works picturing the everyday life as a masquerade. He thereby in a way responds to Tinguely’s work, which receives its name due to the drastically deformed maize harvester in the middle of the piece, fabricated by Mengele, the family name of a notorious Nazi concentration camp doctor. Tales of human cruelty, rape, genocide and violence are broadcasted by the news everyday, leading towards indifference and even disregard of society.
As a response by Zonder to Tinguely, forty drawings, a monumental wall-size work as well as sculptural pieces are on display, which present repellent images of human depravity and thereby brings stories of the twentieth century back into the memories again. His works are very compelling due to both content and graphic technique. Zonder’s drawings reflect an interpretation of the TV series “The Walking Dead”. Violent scenes or a snap-shot of terrible accidents are being masked as harmless and child-friendly situations. His works present grotesque, nightmarish collages on the manner of Otto Dix or George Grosz, playing with familiar situations in order to even more confront the viewer with the scenes of horrific violence.
Zonder’s hybrid image worlds combine the individual with the collective, cultural pessimism with humanity, cruelty and comedy, the speakable and unspeakable.
This solo show marks the first show of a series of exhibitions of young artists who reference and engage with the enduring topicality of Tinguely’s Mengele-Dance of Death and the iconographic tradition of the theme of the Dance of Death.
- Jérôme Zonder, Portrait de Garance #24, 2017. Private Collection, France. Photography: Courtesy Galerie Eva Hober, Paris