Jonat Deelstra is an artist based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He creates bold, contemporary works using oil paint and mixed media techniques. His work revolves around societal issues such as climate change and the meat industry.
“Try to exaggerate the thing you’re trying to do or tell. I think that will take you to new places. It’s okay if it turns out incomprehensible, since one piece of art can speak in many different ways. If you need everything to be comprehensible, you won’t be able to rise beyond cliche imagery.”
About Jonat Deelstra
Jonat was born in Schalkwijk, the Netherlands in 1991. He graduated from the HKU (University of the Arts Utrecht) in 2017 with a Bachelor in illustration, but has since then opted for the path of autonomous art. He works multidisciplinary: using clay, items he found outside or plaster, but he mostly describes himself as a painter. Paint is the best medium for him to express his stories.
From a young age Jonat knew he wanted to become an artist. That mission became clear in his childhood, so he dedicated himself to drawing and sketching. Once he felt he had mastered enough techniques after years of practice and research, he started painting. He did not follow any classical painting lessons and mostly taught himself.
“I love losing control and putting mistakes on a pedestal. My work should have some clumsiness but still pop off the canvas. My works have something ugly about them while still being solid pieces. This tension makes them more interesting. I’m not a big fan of perfect and completely elaborated imagery. I’m actually colour-blind, so I have to use exaggerated and intense, almost toxic-looking colours, or else I won’t be able to distinguish what I’m doing. Still, I’m often praised for my use of colour, maybe because of this handicap.”
Jonat’s work displays social themes in a dualistic manner. His work reflects the tangible reality. Jonat handles topics such as migration, climate change and the meat industry without coming off as arrogant or as a know-it-all. His works aren’t meant to be a protest but should be viewed as substantive research to better understand the world. Jonat’s works are built up in a way that contains both beautiful and threatening elements to depict the balance between heaven and hell.
“In recent years, I have been mostly working on large topics like the aforementioned ones. I love watching documentaries about global issues or sociological and anthropological structures. I have noticed I have started to work on smaller topics, though. At the moment I’m trying to zoom in more and work from ‘doing’. Because I work on such niche subjects, I tend to really make a topic my own.
Though the works are colourful and solid, the scenes seem to fall apart, as if waking up from that particular dream. The relation between the positive and negative is very important. The work must be childish and dark at the same time. The paint is dripping and the figures and landscape are soft and almost melting. I try to work fast, so there are elements in the process I cannot control. I like losing control, and then try to regain it. I work with different kinds of paint, ceramics, film, animation, pencil, charcoal, crayons, woodcut, papier-mâché and plaster.”
Find out more about Jonat
'Antropoceen' - 2021
Oil paint, charcoal, pencil, green soap on wooden panel, 151 x 122 cm.