PLUS-ONE Gallery presents the solo exhibition by Sven 't Jolle at the gallery (New South).
In the promotional image for Sven ‘t Jolle’s latest exhibition, an illustration depicts a figure standing at a grand window, looking down at a crowd that appears to be protesting outside. Some of the protesters are holding banners; one reads ‘NO WAR’. The drawing bears the caption: ‘vroeger was Ik ook voor de vrede’ – I used to be for peace too.
One may wonder, on viewing this illustration, to which war the artist references. Is it a commentary on the current war in Ukraine, which we receive news reports of daily? Or civil war in Afghanistan, Syria or Myanmar? Does the artist agree with this statement or does he repeat it with tongue in cheek? Is peace even possible? Does the sentiment change when we discover that Sven’s drawing was not inspired by recent events? In fact, it was made more than twenty years ago, one of a series of recurring drawings that appear in his sketchbooks from 1999 until around 2002, depicted in differing styles and perspectives but showing the same striking scene.
Sven has long been interested in exploring and critiquing systems of institutional power: the church, the state, the banks. He shows an affinity with the underdogs of society, the undocumented and overlooked, the vulnerable and powerless. He draws inspiration from the strong lineage of artists who made art in response to the issues of their times, often speaking out against injustices. Aligning himself with the folk artists, the outsider artists, the revolutionaries, the degenerates – the artists working outside or in opposition to the system, his practice seeks to present a counternarrative to the dominant narrative perpetuated by mainstream medias.
Excerpt of the exhibition text written by Laura Couttie