With his vibrant felt collages, Cape Town artist Jody Paulsen translates contemporary icons, clichés, and slogans of consumerism into his own understanding of popular culture using visual cues. The striking juxtaposition of abstract dramaturgy and sensual lightness takes on a unique role: Wave-like patterns merge with narrative scenes that indulge in a vibrant color composition.

In the solo exhibition Something About the Water, Paulsen bases his large-scale works on fictional ideas that go beyond his previous oeuvre. Allegorical images of bouquets of flowers, the fragments of which are so artfully arranged that with the help of the viewer's imagination they come together to form the appearance of a portrait, exert the effect of pareidolia. In the midst of individual flowers, unidentifiable in the real world, spring eyes that evoke the association of a strange figure. The artist enjoys arranging patterns, textures and color, improvisationally, until a precise and at the same time delicate summary of different pieces can be read as a symbol, while the composition of each work evokes a familiarity of repetition.

The second part of the exhibition is the revival of Paulsen's series of female figures in bikinis, taken from TV reality shows such as Love Island. Juicy Girls rise from the shimmering ocean while their bodies are covered in fruity textile pieces that can be received as human cocktails. The way we consume the desire for beauty - mediated by icons of the media world - fascinates the artist.
In the felt collage One of a Kind, he decisively precedes his classical representations and dares to expand his visual code: The image of a male person, rare in his body of work, is sheathed in a banana pattern that, thanks to Prada, has become the ubiquitous, instantly recognizable emblem of the fashion world. Accessories such as the most sought-after Krave Beauty sunscreen from the skincare scene are framed by fantastic creatures that equally reflect the contemporary taste of society. For example, the textile lobster not only recalls Elsa Schiaparelli's famous Lobster Dinner Dress from 1937, but also makes direct reference to Versace's current 2021 summer collection. In an impressive manner, Jody Paulsen uses his fabrics as contemporary references, meanwhile reflecting on the magic of water and dreaming of a gaudy, dynamic world that we can dive into with a sense of summer joy, optimism and lightness. Something about The Water: an ode to brighter days. 


Jody Paulsen (1987, ZA) graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, South Africa. He lives and works in Cape Town.