Berlin-based French artist Jaybo Monk (covered here) creates visual collages where figures and their surroundings become one, a place that he calls “nowhere.” He then mixes unexpected elements into this nonsensical space, an experimentation Jaybo also carries into his sculptural works. “I want to disobey in my paintings; disobey the symmetry, the techniques and the narratives system. I am interested in nonsense, the only space for me where freedom is real. I use tools like chance and mistakes to evaluate my craft. I flirt with the impossible. I need to go to places I`ve never been before.”
We visited with Jaybo in his Berlin studio, where he is now working on a new series inspired by immigration. He is particularly compelled by the situation in Europe. Every day there is a news report about people being forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution, seeking refuge – and being refused at the borders. Being an immigrant himself, Jaybo feels empathy for those who seek a better life. He says, “I see similarities between our fears about getting old and undesirable, which is more present than the fact of dying… we transform ourselves to answer to the desire of others. We are living in a world of false promises; the promise of perfect beauty, as well as the promise of a perfect life. We have learnt to lie to ourselves.”
As he works, Jaybo surrounds himself with objects, including trinkets passed along to him by friends and family members. One new sculpture incorporates a ballerina’s shoe. Filled with rubble, the shoe is a symbol of dreams which may never come true for a young girl living in a war torn country. “The beauty of a dancer and the rawness of a broken piece of concrete is, in my opinion, a prefect metaphor for the lost. There is nothing more depressive than wasted talent. On the other hand, you can see a silk shoe always associated with dance and grace and the beauty of movement and the first world. The broken concrete is the brutal architecture off the third world,” Jaybo says. The piece will be exhibited in “Beauty Fool” at Black Book gallery in Colorado this September. The exhibit will also include new oil and spray paint on canvas pieces.
Everything that Jaybo creates is a reflection of his life’s journey. After leaving his studio, he walks us down to where he’s installed “birdhouse shoes” on his favorite street. They are a cluster of old leather brown shoes with holes drilled into the soles. Jaybo enjoys leaving these little surprises for the public to find. Like his paintings, they open the door to enter his imagination and share in his abstract way of thinking. “I like the idea of going nowhere, to be surprised by the journey… I want others to travel to this nowhere with me,” he says.