Artist Jonathan Raddatz creates symbolic paintings that have a primal energy. Enjoy his portfolio, and visit his website to see more of his work.
An important facet of my art is rooted in free form paintings I have idiosyncratically labelled as “neo-symbolic.” I have a kinship with the European surrealists as like them, my aim lies in recuperating the archetypal content of the subconscious. Max Ernst stands out as an important influence.
Also critical to my artistic program are the abstract expressionists that exploded unto the New York art scene in the 1940s and 50s – especially Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Like the work of these painters, my goals are profoundly anti-rational.
I am interested in “reverse engineering” the mythical narratives that tell our story as a species. In the end, we are defined by our memories, and our memories define our myths. While absolutely subjective , memory myths are also absolutely real, and absolutely a part of us regardless of where we live and what age we live in. What has happened before will happen again.
Through my paintings, I am sharing an irrational reality felt most keenly during the creative process. This grand inner and outer realm is made up of a mythical causality of numinous yet fleshy themes. These paintings aim to obliterate the fragile notion of human progress.
Like us, these paintings are tribal, savage, tragic, and governed by threatening cosmic forces beyond our control. When I’m painting, I feel like I’m gazing into the abyss and like Nietzsche rightly points out, when you gaze long enough into the abyss, it gazes right back at you.
Faith, Myth and Reality are the key operative terms that fuel my work. Human notions of our own depravity, faith, deep desires (be they spiritual or physical), or of what lies on the other side of human existence after death can only be discussed subjectively regardless of how objectively real each of these things may be.
The language of absolute reality is forcibly symbolic, because symbols defy linear logic and transcend reason by their ability to sustain paradox; that is why my art emphasizes the symbolic. Specifically because of their multivalent tiers of meaning, symbols point the way to a larger reality directly informing the one we process and experience on a strictly sensual level.
My interaction with paint, surface and the tools mediating the two is motivated by a desire to tap into primal archetypal memories that are at the root of every human’s ontology. My working hypothesis is that an effective way to release these primordial memories buried in the substratum of the collective unconscious is through an instinctive interaction with the basic elements involved in painting.
These interactions are carried out in a ritual manner where every action is laden with heavy symbolic meaning: pigments, patterns, tools used and the manner in which they are used, all take on a primordial significance that I imagine has accompanied this type of art all the way back to the caves of Chauvet and Lascaux. The key lies in entering into a mindset where all actions revolving around the painting are highly ritualized in order to prompt an altered state of consciousness that allows one to “access” the memory (or myth) below the threshold of rational mediation.
For me, painting has become synonymous with both physical and spiritual survival. Should the lights go out and we all find ourselves gathered round about the fire in the company of clan, you will find me with a carbonized stick in my hand scrawling images of the latest version of ancient history on a stone as old as the earth.