Jeremy “Mourning Opulence” at Peres Projects, Berlin

Extravagance, fantasy, lust and sensitivity are the cardinal points of Jeremy’s practice. Soaked in pink and enhanced with deliberately overelaborate vases, “Mourning Opulence” takes us on a journey off the beaten track of heteronormativity, whose invisible yet omnipresent veil is subverted by a queer gloss. Drawing from both mythology and video games, the artist envisions his practice as world-building. Each painting opens the door to a new territory with its own protagonists, adventures, rules and language. Large-format works alternate with smaller canvases, which punctuate the show like commas allowing for moments of pause. Pieced together they form a fragmented narrative, and map an opulent universe of various references, motifs and colors, surrounded by a camp aura.

Gender identity is central to Jeremy’s practice, in which both the masculine body and its modes of representation become a field of thorough investigation. Inspired by the Chimera, a mythical hybrid creature, Jeremy explores the limits of anatomy through a collection of shapeshifters who populate the exhibition space and struggle to adapt to sometimes hostile environments. Resisting categorization by giving shape to fluidity, he renders amorphous, swollen figures in metamorphosis, which both defy societal expectations and distort the canons of art history.

Liberating and provocative, Jeremy’s body of work discloses desire and fantasies. Sexless but sexual, his epicene mutants display their muscular bodies and voluptuous curves on the walls of the gallery. Never frontal, the eroticism that permeates the exhibition relies on suggestive motifs, such as tumescent veins or lascivious curls. A sense of subverted innocence pervades the works, which finds its epitome in the swirls of hair that unfold across canvases. Drawing from both the manga of the 1980s and the history of drapery in painting and sculpture, hair becomes the allusive motif par excellence, the hint that draws attention to what it pretends to conceal.

Jeremy unfurls erotic and tender painted lines which convey an emotionally ambiguous charge that cannot leave anyone indifferent. Each painting follows unexpected roads, expressing the artist’s insatiable curiosity and thirst for experimentation. Drawing from a repertoire of heterogenous references including Ovid, Georges Bataille, Italian Baroque, Captain Harlock and German Expressionism, Jeremy cultivates an intrepid aesthetic that is unafraid of frictions, clashes or incongruous juxtapositions. In Notes on Camp (1964), an influential reference for the artist, echoed in many respects by his practice, Susan Sontag writes: “Camp taste turns its back on the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgment. [. . .] What it does is to offer for art (and life) a different—a supplementary—set of standards.”

Drawing on sincerity and generosity, and fueled by irrepressible emotions, Jeremy’s standards are demanding but rewarding for those who join the dance. Despite its deathly allusions, “Mourning Opulence” is far from a danse macabre. More often than not, Jeremy’s paintings evoke memento vivi, which convey an undaunted and necessary call to reclaim one’s right to exist and take up space, fully and unapologetically. No matter if it’s slightly too much, no matter if it’s sometimes imperfect, as long as it’s flamboyant.

at Peres Projects, Berlin
until March 17, 2023

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