JAQUELINE DE JONG at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Jaqueline de Jong Off Season 1986

As the epitome of intersectionality, De Jong’s work is informed by a politics of liberalism, propelling an activism concerned with establishing anti-authoritarian stances, which look towards avant-garde ideas to shock one out of the conformity that came along the rise of Marxism and uniformity.

Pinball Wizard depicts the artist’s evolution across time as she finds herself bouncing along the movements of each decade like the pinball of her fascination, moved by the ever changing trends in art and philosophy, never entirely establishing an ideology of her own, resulting in a practice that, in its concern to communicate through form, remains at its core, empty.

From her early days working at the Stedelijk Museum, to her adoption of the Situationist philosophy , knowing herself to be unknowledgeable, the artist appears to have adopted the lifelong position of a student. As one makes their way through the diachronic evolution of the artist’s so called progression, their eyes come to be drawn to the pieces which De Jong deemed inspiration, rather than the artist’s very creations. Juxtaposed to these works, which have informed entire movements of their own, the superficiality of De Jong’s paintings find themselves heightened, if not a satirical copy.

The artist’s tendency to appropriate rather than create is best reflected through the ‘modifications’ paintings produced in the 1950’s, amongst which “Top of the World”, which reflects at once a reliance through appropriation of another’s ideas, as well as a necessity to build upon existing structures in light of the void perceived at the very core one’s own philosophy.

Beyond form, behind each outline appropriated by the artist, lies ideals that differ from De Jong’s very own. As such, the acquisition of the latter for stylistic purposes alone cannot help but misinform, as the art that results from it ultimately understood within an ideological context that differs from the intended statement.

In the end, the dilemma at hand is not one of an ethical nature with a concern for authenticity, but a malaise informed by the artist’s belief that the appropriation of a medium, a style, or an ideology come hand in hand with the emotional attachment required for an exploration beyond superficiality. Ultimately, De Jong’s message is as effusive as her artistic identity. Having adopted creation itself as an end, De Jong’s work cannot help but reflect the very ethos of production characteristic of the society she sought to criticize- a practice informed by standardization and uniformity, in its desire to run from one authority, adopts the practices of a second, a third, lost in a sea of possibility.   Elaine Zheng    16th May 2019


Jaqueline de Jong Pinball Wizard continues until 18th August