Die Saat / The Seed 126 x 152 cm Mixed Media on Paper 2017 by Jan Pötter, photo maeshelle west-davies

Jan Pötter & Jude Griebel: Die Geister, die ich rief


The work of Jan Pötter and Jude Griebel just belongs together.

Yes, Jan is a painter and Jude is a sculptor. But they see things in the same whimsical proportions and from a similar viewpoint.

In English, “Die Geister, die ich rief” becomes “The ghost that I summoned.”

You know the deal: You want to rub the lamp and awaken the genie. You want the wishes. You asked for it, you got it. Now you have to live with the consequences, be they positive or negative.

Jan Pötter and Jude Greibel, “Die Geister, die ich rief”, Spinnerei Archiv Massiv, 7 July – 5 Aug 2017, photo maeshelle west-davies

I have been lucky to be able to witness the growth of Jan’s work. On our first encounter, he was fresh out of studying in the Netherlands and ready for the next stage in career and life. He had an idea of how that could look, but no concrete plan. His work was purely fantasy and not connected with meaning.

In primary school, Jan hated art class. Later, he would come to realise this was because everything they did had a set end result. He allows his imagination to lead the way and gives it room to develop in the painting process.

detail of Fütterung / Feeding 126 x 152 cm Mixed Media on Paper 2017 by Jan Pötter, photo maeshelle west-davies

Several things happened to lead him to his current state of being. For one, he switched his Spinnerei studio for a more remote one in a collective. Coming out the door and seeing all the galleries and knowing there were many well established artists working on the same complex just felt a little forced and stifled his creativity. He also found love and became a father.

Hühnerbein ging allein… 70 x 100 cm Mixed Media on Paper 2016 by Jan Pötter, photo maeshelle west-davies

His work is still whimsical, but now it references personal experience. With its bright colours and often menacing creatures, it feels like Dr Seuss meets Brothers Grimm.

I love that the energy is palpable. I also love that the paintings show life’s duality objectively. There is no judgement or conclusion drawn.

Jan knows there are good days and there are bad days.

It is all just there to explore. And they are full. You can look and look again and find something new. Each person can see something else that relates to themselves.

“Sandwich Face” by Jude Greibel, photo maeshelle west-davies

And then just as we have reconciled the wonderful with the disturbing in Jan’s 2D work, BAM! Jude socks it to us in 3D.

Is that a ham sandwich I see?

Jude has taken from the Renaissance tradition of sneaking human forms into landscapes to show how we dominate the natural world, and applied it to our lives today. So, is a ham sandwich just a ham sandwich or is a a face gone mad? Is this a reaction to our modern food production?

Of course that would come to my mind, a vegetarian who grew up on crazy over-grown tomatoes, frogs, rabbits and other atomically produced seemingly mundane elements going rogue.

All the sculptures in the exhibit felt human. Some are like an atomic bomb doing a jig. I asked Jude if they were autobiographical or political:

The work reflects personal struggles with being an active consumer in this world, with using, ruining and wasting materials and fuel. The work explores these struggles in playful and self-depracating ways. For instance, a face, constantly feeding, doubles as a sandwich. Bodies made of emissions are being pulled in different directions through travel and shipping goods. In Wreck, a pile of debris and wreckage lies beneath a serene ocean surface.

The pieces are made from carved wood. Then resin is applied and painted in oil and acrylic. This is a process that stems from model making and which is used in museological dioramas. Jude chose this technique because he felt he had similar aims: explaining the surrounding world through miniature.

Both Jude and Jan came to Leipzig through the Pilotenkuche residency. Jan has made Leipzig his home and Jude has his sights set on that for the future. A Canadian in New York, he finds himself “not only drawn to the contemporary figurative work being promoted there, but to the older and derelict buildings, all the wilderness throughout the city, and the really active DIY gallery and music scene.”

It seems both artists are looking to the Leipzig spirits to provide them with something they need. Just like me and you, only time will tell if that wish is everything we thought it would be.

“Stretched Thin” by Jude Greibel, photo maeshelle west-davies

Artist, curator and writer: maeshelle west-davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums.

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