Jonathan Meese – The Dictatorship of Art

Born in 1970 in Tokyo, Jonathan Meese is a German painter, sculptor and performance artist, viewed as one of the most provocative figures of Germany’s contemporary art scene.

His personal mythology is a blend of historical, legendary and science fiction references. The subjects of his work have included characters as the Marquis de Sade, a notorious advocate of evil, or Stalin. The result is always impactful, as can be seen on the selected works below:


Meese is also well known for his performances, during which he can combine references to Nietzsche, Hegel or Wagner with howls and heated speeches trying to convince the audience that art should rule the world.


The only authority in my life is art and my mom. Art is not culture. Culture is what the state and politics want you to produce. Art is total play. Art is not democracy. It’s important to understand the difference between culture and art.  Culture is what the state or school you live in wants you to do, what the people around you want you to do – that is culture. Art has nothing to do with that. We have to go away from culture and come back to art.


His paintings are at once humorous and cryptic, combining figures, symbols, and written phrases in arresting primary colors. Meese sees art as play and his practice is rapid and playful. He paints by jumping from canvas to canvas, often using the paint tube as a brush. His paints can evoke the aesthetic and imagination of children’s drawings.

The work below is a great representation of Meese’s practice.




Jonathan Meese


Achtyng: mein silbriges Fischmusterhemd muffelt nicht, lebrig und wie Corinndel’s Reitermütz




Oil, Acrylic, acrylic putty, caparol dispersion binder on canvas


210 x 140 cm


Galleritz Collection, Barcelona










Meese also likes to play with the title of his works, very often intriguing and impossible to translate. In this case, it goes something like: “My silvery fish pattern shirt does not muffle, lively and like Corinndel’s riding hat”.

Very interesting !!


More information about this work:












“At the heart of our project also lies the belief in art being fundamental to a happier life and a better society”