"I have always doodled, since I was a kid. In fact all my notebooks were full of drawings; it was my way of consolidating information, Johnathan shares. "I love paper", he continues, "as its possibilities are endless. I also quite enjoy working with something inexpensive, such as paper, to produce something great and of value."

Below: work in progress shot as part of  Reiner's Sweet Talkin piece. 

It is since his childhood that, Dr Reiner, for yes, Johnathan is a neuroscience graduate and a medical doctor, lives and creates in two worlds – the world of art and that of medicine. Immensely different spheres you might say, but only at first sight. Once you get to look deeper, beyond the preconceptions and ready-made assumptions of what a doctor and an artist is, then, you get a more nuanced and complex idea of his works.  

I have always been very visual and attracted to patterns.

The love for colours comes with growing up in a creative family atmosphere, where encouragement to draw and freely self- express were always present. At the same time, he was also interested in biology and in human body and mind. Johnathan, however, quickly learnt to embrace  contradictions in his life through his first conflict between medicine and art, and that subsequently contradictions became a motif in my work– naïve vs. mischievous, two dimensional vs three dimensional imagery, western vs. tribal, half tones vs solid colours, he explains.

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Patterns, colours, shades

Patterns, colours, shades, totems, icons, images, beauty – those are terms we all know the meaning of. In Reiner’s work, nonetheless, those are not just some mere concepts; there is more to it than it seems. Hugely inspired by Hollywood’s Golden era, he creates a parallel to that bygone time by taking the familiar, comfortable notion of beauty and completely deconstructing it. The often objectified Western idea of beauty is extracted (seen in the Totem series) and then juxtaposed with the more subjectified tribal one, resulting in perfectly balanced, multi-layered, empowered images on paper. It is about empowering; reclaiming of the image’s power, explains Reiner. 

Below- Totem 3-Fortunain the making. All images are courtesy of the artist.

 

 

      

Totem 3- Fortunacompleted and currently on view at Hang-Up, as part of our Xmas Show.

   

When asked to unravel the unique imagery aesthetics of his Totem Series, Reiner shares that:

"I use imagery of Ziegfeld women who were idolised in the 1920s and 30s and who were often photographed and portrayed as fragile or tormented, adorning pearls and staring passionately into something distant. The way these women were portrayed represented a pre- conceived, formulated embodiment of beauty. The poses and the models were almost stencilled which actually stripped the muse of her individuality, her uniqueness. In the Totem series I am trying to challenge our set idea of what is perceived as beautiful and offer a juxtaposition of that beauty with that of non-western, native and tribal attire, nature, pattern and colours. In offering that mash- up, I am also empowering the image, providing an individuality and personality to the muse, raising her profile from that of a model which is idolised to a Totem which is worshiped and which has spiritual depth and sanctity to it." 

Below: Totem 2-Rhea, also on view at Hang-Up Gallery

 

 

There is quite intense contradictory image fusion in every one of his Sweet Talkin’, Adam and Eve; Tangled pieces. Johnathan explains that he has always been a film buff and  been drawn to how they used to portray relationships, love and couplehhood during Hollywood golden age.'

I guess I was quite naïve as a child and really fell into this trap that relationships are free of conflicts and are about living happily ever after. It was only as I grew up and developed a critical view on these images that I realised how skewed and sometimes wrong things were portrayed. In my works I portray couples who are stuck forever in a composition on paper. My couples are faceless and are constructed through the use of solid colours and patterns to enhance the banality, naivety and two dimensional characteristic of their predicament. To this I add a twist, a wink, or a sinister statement which adds depth to the image – that breaks down the idealised composition. In doing this I share my own thoughts of relationships and the complexities they carry.

 Below; Sweet Talkin, 2014

It is truly fascinating to observe the harmonic unity of two completely different philosophical ideas, the achievement of which in all Reiner's works looks somehow effortless. 

Johnathan Reiner's prints are currently on view and part of the Xmas Show. Come and see them! 

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