Uwe Jonas’ abstract stone objects captivate the observer. Manipulating a mesmerizingly deft interplay of material, colour, form, volume, rhythm and space, his art is truly multifaceted. His materials of choice are the wire cables used to configure the stones, the weight-bearing steel frames and the unpolished Austrian marble. Though potentially little more than dull slabs reminiscent of grey paving stones, through deliberate choice and suitable treatment the single stone pieces reveal a variety of forms, colours and volumes. The compositional kaleidoscope encompasses self-assured cubes with relatively regular edges at one end of the scale and diffident, crumbling fragmentary scraps and small perforated discs at the other end.
Jonas sees himself more as a painter than a sculptor. His focus is less on the physical mass and three dimensionality of the works and more on the surface effects – the play of light and shade, colour hues and tones. As multiple influences pervade this work no one allegorical, symbolic or determined contextual theme can define his sculptures, objects or installations. With the subtle aura and subliminal theurgy suffusing the work no single artistic or linguistic code can capture its essence. This work is about the interaction between the single component and the complete structure, the discrete fragment within the overall geometrical form as well as the dialogue between natural and industrially fabricated material. Rest and contemplation aligned with clarity, simplicity and sublimity distinguish the works.
In the sense of the “Concrete Art”, as it was defined for the first time by Theo von Doesburg in 1924, the works of Jonas accentuate the autonomous character of his artistic approach to work and thought. Accordingly they are not to be contextually considered through restrictive retrospective lenses which define them as merely tangible concrete objects of the brutalist school of art. Geometrical and constructive configuration schemes shape the work which consciously renounces set conventions in favour of free associations. In an enticing manner it also wades into the sensory stimulus accentuated "Op art" school with our ocular desire to discover the visual. This art does not invite one to decipher its secrets. Rather one should simply allow the sensory stimuli to be overwhelmed. And thus it seems that with his stone landscapes Uwe Jonas wants to challenge the rational, left brain way of perceiving and sensitise such people to the meditative charm of the hidden natural forces as witnessed in Asian philosophy.
© 2009 Dr. M.A. Justinus Maria Calleen
Extract from the text "Himmelsgegend" ("Celestial Region")
The sculptures of Uwe Jonas revel in the evocative power of marble. The stone´s different mineral characteristics and various stages of finish create a spectrum of different color tones. Jonas´work deftly combines dressed, smooth edges and jagged fissures to create a stirring overall effect. Forms are created through simple, recognizable interventions such as cutting or splitting. Jonas brings the individual fragments together to create a sculptural field whose square perimeter is defined by the steel frame supporting it. Unlike a pedestal, which functions as a raised display platform, here the light, quadratic steel frame is an integral part of the whole. The clear linearity of the steel supports is juxtaposed against the uneven contours of the stone tablets. The visually balanced whole elicits associations with a natural landscape. The title of the work, “Gebirgsmaschine” (“Mountain Machine”), evokes this confrontation between natural unevenness and deliberate design. By juxtaposing a montane motif against a linear steel structure, Jonas´work confronts irregularity with precision and nature with fabrication. The sculpture´s precise proportions, arrangement, and colours also make reference to the architectural space surrounding it.
Extract from the catalogue text „Himmelsgegend“ ("Celstial Region") © 2006 Dr. Patricia Drück
Building. Building with stones. Building blocks. Stone building. Stone on stone. Stone by stone. Stone on wires. To be in good form. On supporting structures. Stone and structure.
Marble. Unpolished marble. Rock mass. Mine. Leavings. Removal. Tidying up. Installing. One room. Space structure. Clearing out. From rooms. Spatiality. Framed.
Painting. Painting with stones. Building with stones. Pigment stones. Framing. Image as object. Stone object. Framework as beams. Framework as canvas. Canvas formations.
From quarry to stone object. Waste edges. Fragments. Use of perceived fragments. Cuttings. Incisions. Sections. Cut-outs.
Building material. Little building blocks. Playfulness. Playful joy. Playful spirit. Archaic structures. Elementary. Geometric.
Stone fields. Front walls. Labyrinths. Treasure chambers. Stone buildings. Ruined cities. Landscapes. Layout maps. Spirals. Art sites.
The sculptures of Uwe Jonas evoke calmness and concentration, a deeper and deeper engagement in matter, in its virtues and attributes. It seems as if he could paint all colours with grey stones, coming nearer to the substantial with only a few basic forms. Clear structures create and frame the inscrutability of details.
Jonas activity with stones is continuously enriching. The coalescence of pictorial bodies and pictorial substrata, the proving and investigation of the addition itself, consistently opens new possibilities and an anticipation of the exhaustlessness. One comes to another and yields the optimal more than the sum of its parts.
Beyond material expression, his sculptures analyze the relationship between the located and the appropriated. They characterize the action of the artist between perception and invention, between the will to compose and coincidence, between activity and event.
The Garden of Stones works as a place for contemplation rather like the sounding board of a carefully tempered instrument. The clarity and construction of the framework seeks a contrast between nature and the savagery of the stone. The actual state and the surface, respectively, choose their tone and reverberation, the quality of colour virtue and light reflection. The ray of light decides on waste or cut edges, on smooth or cragged expanses.
Uwe Jonas is a painter, who uses the instruments and methods of a sculptor. Maybe Jonas practices pictorial spatialism instead of sculpture: his visual range abstains from illusion in entering, demanding and generating it.
His sculptures and installations respectively create and form space. They affect. Whereupon the appearance of the sculptures is identical to their virtue, the stones do not lie, nor do their configurations. The artist invents them.
With prosaic clarity, austerity and convenience sparkle and sometimes refeflect the charm of the playful. In aberrations, they cavort drunken and whimsical. Consciously diagonal cuttings cause completely unforeseen openings to the non-systematic, and in the middle of the calculation pulsates the lifeblood.
Filligrane, structure-alleging wire frameworks and carefully split marble discs, plates, slices or cubes refer to one another, adhering together like pigment on canvas.
Uwe Jonas combines ideal geometrical systems with form-shaped natural matter, the lively with the disposed. He deals with the textual, that is to say functional, meaning of spatiality. His works account for themselves, as they arise as installation or staging in the context of their environment.
The relationship between framework and stone follows the transformation from imagination and crystalline growth to the laws of gravity, economy and meaningful sympathetically affected solution.
Finally, everything seems to evoke the virtues and refraction of the light on the receiver, the stony pigment.
© 2005 Cornelia Kleÿboldt, M.A. Kunsthistorikerin
The Visual and the Imagination
The square and circle are two simple yet complete forms which express harmony and perfection. In the square, with its four equal sides, we experience balance, stability, reliability and hence a sense of well-being. In all cultures the circle stands for unity, perfection, completeness. Uwe Jonas’ at once sculptural and laminar objects of cut and fractured, irregular, square marble stones in basic grey tint are the fundamental form of the structure. The square and circle configure the composition of the internal space. Looked at as a complex whole we perceive the fluid motion three dimensionality of the external form. In many works further levels are juxtaposed. Steel frames fix the pieces in stasis while visually communicating with the other discrete pieces within the overall unit i.e., the frames, stones and negative spaces are engaged in a communication which binds them together as one discrete whole. The language of this dialogue is therefore at once gravity and weightlessness. In enmeshing the surrounding space with its aesthetic dynamics the work becomes a part of the external space and vice versa. Thus we touch the essential peculiarity of these works of multi-dimensional space. Unbound and uncontained by external or internal negative space the latticework configured stones can explore "space" and extend into infinity, its spiritual dimension, like E. Chillida the Catalan sculptor says. A key concern of the sculptor’s appeal to his challenger – the viewing public.
Two extracts from the catalogue text "The Visual and the Imagination" © 2005 Ingeborg Wiegand-Uhl, Dr.phil Art History
The lively reality of the Abstract
What do the Venus of Milo, the Metopes of the Parthenon frieze and Michelangelos David have in common with an upper class bathroom furnishing? They are all made of marble, a medium to coarse crystalline metamorphic limestone with its surface embodying an incomparable pituresque impression if it`s in a polished condition. Marble can be found in nearly all mountains of Europe in the most varying colours from the purest White to the deepest Black. The sculptors` Mekka of long ago was Carrara with its blossomwhite stone, earning the great respect of contemporary sculptors due to its history.
Uwe Jonas, although working with stone still regards himself more as a painter,feeling carefree about this he consequently doesn`t use marble of Carrara because its physical qualities don´t fit his working style. Upon entering his atelier and seeing the hill of grey stones no one would ever have the idea that this could be marble. But of course, a cube of unpolished grey marble would look as unattractive as a pavement stone. In any case no one would think of the Venus of Milo. Jonas prefers this kind of marble because of its ability to be easily split, and his work is being based on a constructive principle of division, addition and multiplication. So the chaos of the stone hill gets arranged into an image or a relief by operation of the artist. For the frame, Jonas uses common building steel gratings to which the marble cubes or panels are fixed. The gratings work in a figurative sense together as canvas and stretcher. With them the inner form just like the single structure is getting defined. They can be visible in their function as supporting structural component in the finished image, or they may be overlayed completely. Thus existing stone circles are attached into a square screen and there are others that just like a tondo fill out completely the implied sphere of the steelgratings. You can also find rectangular images that are open to all sides because of the missing steelframe and others which are solidly framed. In one of the new works the compact field of stones is divided visibly into three parts, so we can see a triptych in front of us.
So much as Uwe Jonas`formations, which are derived from the basic geometric forms: rectangle and circle, stay neutral and without illusionary or symbolical meaning, so lively becomes their surface. Even when he doesn`t polish the marble and doesn`t make it shiny, he still chooses it with the eye of the painter. There is the slightly bronze tone that makes the surface gently glimmer or a fresh blue-grey one that gets intensified by the whitish vein; another time a specks of light are arranged in a sort of a diagonal so that they are playing on the surface like the reflexes of the sun. The little marble squares are not only different in colour but also in form. This changes from a cube with relatively regular edges to fragmentary remainder pieces up to the split panels being rectangularly set to the square stones, that intensify the effect of light and shade and thus determine the rhythm of the surface movement.
Finally at this point of contemplation one recognizes, why Uwe Jonas himself conceives as a painter and not as a sculptor. Primarily he is interested in surface, in light and shade, in color tones and color timbres. He can achieve all this only by leaving two dimensionality and transforming the abstract geometrical form into a comprehensible body. The non-representation of the Abstract gains reality this way and becomes a living form.
© 2001 Dr.Hanne Weskott
For Uwe Jonas
“La petite église” is a combination of site specific works and wall drawings by Uwe Jonas for the Sendlinger Church of the Ascension. Made from dark blue Rauriser marble, the “Star”, “Wall” and “Cone” exhibits symbolize ambivalence in both message and material. The milled and cut marble dressed in the shape of paving-stones, is released from the constricting image of impervious, uniform compactness which customarily defines stone. By looking more carefully, the anonymous severity looses ground. Subtle grained, every stone is unique and unmistakeable. All stones form new, bright effects. Immoveable walls in hearts and minds change into a bulwark, into a symbol of standing firmly together, which allows space for development, breaking down barriers without compromising the identity and conscience of the individual. Similarly the “Cone” rises upwards like the tower of Babel, but sets itself prudent limits and with it - for inspiration from above – remains open and receptive. Though made of stone, the “Cone” and “Wall” exhibits are fluid and in so being embody the antithesis of the rigid property associated with stone. In other words, though made of stone, “Cone” and “Wall” are not so aesthetically brittle as to have a visual dynamic which appears set in stone. Individuality is preserved while nevertheless conforming to stable, concerted unity, which respects individual liberty and group welfare – a very Christian concern. Cusps of the Star of David seem to disintegrate, or at least to be facing imminent danger – a bitter remembrance of the myriad pogroms throughout history which culminated in the most recent this century. The Star of David hexagram is, like the Cross, an ancient seal against evil ghosts. It symbolises the fusion of the visible and invisible worlds. “La petite église” is aptly named: Sage church is all about the living connection between immanence and transcendence. It is where God incarnate is celebrated and the ghosts of the demonized, human world are acknowledged. There is a profusion of variety in the matt black varnish on aluminium Star of David wall pictures by Uwe Jonas. The composed form frees itself from the confines of rigidity. The sacral motif appears movable, dynamic and full of vital plurality. Existential, tender and angular diversity is a protestant principle. When moulded clarity is preserved as in the alignments of Uwe Jonas, the circle – symbol of perfection and everlasting unity – shines through to engulf all plurality.
© 1999 Susanne Breit-Keßler