Selected by Espace JB
"Lucid spontaneity and mischievous play in the grounds of a luxurious French hotel brought Jonathan’s latest series L’heure de Tigre into existence."
Unseen Platform: How did working with graffiti first lead you towards photography?
Jonathan LLense: At first, I only used photography to document my paintings. As time went by, I became more interested in capturing my surroundings than my art. Graffiti is a fantastic way to learn how to look at things in a new light. It rapidly developed my curiosity and sharpened my eye for detail and composition. I try to maintain this intense way of working in my photographic process. I still, however, catch myself working in a way that I imagine most young photographers do; depending on an unstable income and spending way too much time behind a computer screen.
In L’Heure du Tigre, you apply a more subdued monochromatic approach. Why is that?
The project was made during a residency in a luxurious hotel in the south of France. The colours in this area of the country are beautiful, but as soon as they’re used in images, you can’t really look past their clichés. The hotel, in a way, was the same. When I arrived, it seemed disturbingly perfect; it’s a small, closed-off environment that is idyllic and unchanging. I quickly realised that if I wanted to photograph, I had to create a new universe. Using monochromatic imagery, I could decontextualise the photographs from their environment. With the help of friends that live nearby, I undertook experiments with objects that seemed out of place within the hotel’s surroundings. Eventually, the work transformed into a record of the time I spent with my friends, and the world that we created together through experiments.
There’s a sculptural, DIY quality within your work. When did you start experimenting with objects in this way?
As graffiti brought me to photography, it seems only fitting that photography is now leading me to sculpture. I can’t just find an object and photograph it anymore; I need to interact with it with my own two hands. I have always been fascinated by objects, or instead, perhaps they’re fascinated with me. They speak to me, and have organically become part of my photography. I believe there’s a beauty in broken, half-finished or altered objects; they’re like poetry made up of mistakes.