Interview with Jonathan Beer.

By Max Evry

Through crisp technique and counterintuitive juxtapositions, Jonathan Beer’s art straddles the line between illustration and full-blown abstraction, often side-by-side. His emphasis is on decay and motifs of memory, with each piece attempting to conjure the reality of the mind, something like a Polaroid snapshot of his mental state.

Fresh off earning an M.F.A., Beer was recently awarded a summer residency in Leipzig, Germany, and he’ll be holding a solo show called “Landscape Revisited” at the Ferst Art Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology from May 17-June 30. His M.F.A. Thesis show at the New York Academy of Art opens on the 15th of May from 6-8pm.

We talked to Beer at his studio in New York about his process, and how it is aided by an intuition that is producing truly striking imagery.

Max Evry: Do you ever look back at a piece and find you’ve overdone it, went one or two steps too far?

Jonathan Beer: Oh yeah, all the time. Learning to not paint is one of the hardest things to do. I remember talking to one of the instructors here about that, and someone told him that a mature artist knows when to not paint. After he said that I started to think about that when I compulsively reach to make a mark on something I hadn’t touched in a while. It’s like, “Wait, is this right?” Now if I’m not sure I let it sit, and a lot of time when
I get the urge to do something it’s because I just want to work, so I’ll just start something new at that point. I get that energy out and it protects the other stuff from a possibly destructive decision.

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