Schönfeld Projects / Atelier Jesse Willems

At first glance, the collages of Jesse Willems (°1984) look like a melancholic echo of constructivism. But do not be mistaken. His visual language refers to the collage technique of the pre-war avant-garde and the development of abstract art, but Willems also reflects a contemporary zeitgeist. He collects, organises, and selects to control the chaos surrounding him as if he was lucid dreaming.

In a world where everything continuously has to be more and faster, the artist deploys his camera to catch his breath in search of tranquillity. He zooms in on urban details, looking for light, reflection, shadow, and contrast until the abstract-figurative dichotomy no longer exists, and geometric figures become poetic, spherical images. Willems spontaneously photographs the latter during his urban quests for something to hold on to. The “found compositions” are reworked in his studio, all the while challenging his urge for order and control by working on old “found paper”. The story of texture and patina lend the work dimension. The scars are captivating and guide him intuitively. You could say we’re all collages of our interests, influences, experiences, and inspirations. History is constantly moving and changing. We live, collect, look at the world, and selectively try to compose who we are in this moment. For titles, Willems later adds fragments from magazines and song lyrics. The whole thing pinches. The artist is aware that being in control is an illusion. He refers to the Stoics: ‘The world is divided into two categories: that which is in our power and that which is not.’