John Reuss is characterized by contrasts - the juxtaposition of opposites on several levels - which is recognized throughout my paintings. Fine detail, drawn lines and meticulously painted shapes clash with bold brushstrokes, spatters and blurred contours. Soft organic shapes and multifaceted figures meet hard, calculated geometric abstractions.
The world John Reuss depicts is not a physical location in space and time. It is an inner world, a world where thought, emotion and raw cognition defines not only the figures, but also the space they inhabit.
For the artist, the creative process is a key to that inner, psychological world - balancing on the border of the conscious and subconscious and revolving around themes like how we relate to the world we live in, the definition of “self” contra the surrounding world, our bodily integrity and mortality.
John Reuss’ work often deals with issues such as alienation, loneliness and the pursuit of an unattainable inner harmony. In general he is very interested in the inner life of people and that carries through in the way his figures turn out. Their various disfigurements, missing body parts and multiple angles is a symbol of their psychology and cognitive mechanisms.
Labels such as “existential surrealism” or “psychological realism” have often been used about John Reuss’ work - which he thinks describes it well. Reuss aims to make art that not only tells about himself, but also speaks to the viewer and is open to interpretation - that can contain meanings that the artist have not foreseen.
John Reuss’ process is one of dialogue, applying, revisiting, destroying and creating. His favorite medium is acrylic paint - it dries fast suiting both the artist’s temperament and his technique very well. He doesn’t like to wait too long in between adding layers of paint to his work.
In the process Reuss strive to obtain a balance - on the border of the conscious and subconscious, where he reacts and paints without too much reflection, alternated with more reflected and controlled decisions.
The artist applies multiple layers, adding and removing elements and he works directly on the canvas, drawing his sketches up with paint or charcoal. He often include charcoal and pencil drawings in several layers, resulting in a more sensitive and fragile “feel”.
Painting over parts, making mistakes and getting lost is a very important part of John Reuss’ process. Although frustrating at times, getting lost and loosing the overview allows for unforeseen and unusual ideas to emerge. For Reuss creativity is as much about tearing down and destroying as it is about creating and building up. This also means that the final work is the result of the process rather than a planned image.
Towards the end of the process he adds the finer detail, finishing highlights and shading and cleaning up certain lines and areas. One often find traces of the process itself in a finished work: The structure of layered paint, delicate pencil work, the raw smudged charcoal lines and layers intertwined and partially exposed.
Since John Reuss’ process is cyclic it is also endless - The artist will often revisit already “finished work” and rework it all over again, giving it a new dimension and adding to the historicity of the work.