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Galerie Sommerlath

“Visions of the Unseen”, Artist Proof Screen print (2/ 25) by Jonathan Winters

“Visions of the Unseen”, Artist Proof Screen print (2/ 25) by Jonathan Winters

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Step into the marvelous world of Jonathan Winters, the incomparable American actor whose artistry transcended the stage and screen. Like outsider artists, Winters didn't adhere to formal training in the plastic arts; instead, we can approach his artwork as a playful kingdom charged with truth and boundless freedom.

Like his penchant for exploring flea markets and collecting eclectic treasures in the second part of his life in Santa Barbara, Winters' canvas reflects a metaphorical kaleidoscope of influences, capturing moments and objects that left an indelible mark on his psyche. His canvas becomes a mental marketplace, where disparate elements converge to form a vibrant tapestry of his inner world.

In this piece numbered 2/25, we are immediately struck by the uninhibited expression of surrealism—a testament to Winters' rejection of artistic norms and embrace of the unconventional. Symbolism abounds the number 11 stands as a beacon of symbolic significance, heralding new beginnings and spiritual awakening—an homage to the "new age" movement. The enigmatic figure of a naked tree-woman, a modern-day allegory of the Statue of Liberty challenging societal norms. We can notice that she keeps at a distance a coat hanger, which may symbolize the idea of liberation from stereotypical roles. Women were often considered coat racks, and she's the one now holding the hanger. A podium adorned with a victorious pump hints at triumph over conventional standards, while yin and yang mice seem to have a good life amidst the elemental forces of fire and water—a baptism of renewal.

Amidst this symbolic landscape, a door with a heart-shaped lock beckon, its unlocking possible through the ability to love and forgive, suggestive of inner revelation and self-discovery. A sunflower, ever-turning towards the sun, shares space with a towering mountain resembling Mount Fuji, and a vibrant rainbow supported by small black frog characters with elongated shapes—an ode to the eternal cycle of life and growth. Meanwhile, a curious hybrid figure, on the left bottom side, part bird, part human, captivates with its enigmatic presence while a sun split like a mushroom or a cracked brain swallowing clouds invites contemplation of the mysterious dialogue between light and shadow. And at the heart of it all, a central eye gazes outward, ruling over intuition, imagination, and memory, perhaps a contemporary incarnation of the Eye of Horus—a nexus of art, medicine, and mythology, inviting exploration of the depths of the human experience. Each seemingly disparate element is united by Winters' brushstrokes, which capture the spontaneity of automatic thought.

Dissecting every symbol would be to miss the point entirely, for Winters' genius lies in his ability to transcend rationality and embrace the chaos of creativity. Winters was passionately devoted to art. His canvas is not a reflection of reality or a soulless application of techniques but a portal into the depths of his imagination—a realm where truth, freedom, and intensity reign supreme.

Renowned for his wacky humor, Comedian and Painter, Jonathan Winters here reveals his artistic talents in this artwork that showcases his comic, poignant, and surreal sensibility.
Jonathan Winters (1925-2013) was an American Postwar & Contemporary Artist and Comedian. Winters studied art at Kenyon College and the Dayton Art Institute and evolved a highly personal style. His work recalls surrealist Miro, Ernst, and Klee. Artist, Dong Kingman says of Jonathan Winters; "he is widely known as a comedian. Everybody thinks of him as a funny man who does funny things. He talks softly at first. Then, all of a sudden, his humor hits you like an ax. But I know Jonathan better. I respect him and his work as a painter. I have visited his home and gone down to his nine-foot-below-ground studio in a four-by-four-foot room just big enough to hold a drawing table and a couple of chairs. We often sit there and talk about life, about art, and exchange ideas. His style of painting is abstract, reminding me of that of Wassily Kandinsky or Paul Klee at first sight. But his use of design, pattern, and calligraphy to express his feelings goes much deeper beneath the surface. To understand his wonderful ability to tell funny stories as a performer, one must also see him as a painter and analyze his artwork."

PERIOD: Late 20th Century
CONDITION: Excellent
MEASUREMENTS: Height: 23.88" Width: 30.88" Depth: 0.5"
CREATOR: Jonathan Winters

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