Jonathan Rajewski: Together Apart

May 23rd - July 13th, 2024
  • Jonathan Rajewski: Together Apart, Installation View. Photography by Clare Gatto.

Nina Johnson is pleased to announce Together Apart, a solo exhibition of new and existing paintings, artist books, and staple collages by Detroit-based artist Jonathan Rajewski. Opening May 23rd in the Front Gallery, the exhibition explores the porous boundaries of the visual, the verbal, and the material through an aesthetics of assemblage. In Together Apart, the autonomy of each canvas is challenged by unexpected diptychs; found images and ephemera are painted over and through; and the artist’s book is reconceived as an interactive, unbounded practice.

  • Jonathan Rajewski, Torch Lake (Don't It Seem Like A Good Time To Go Swimming, Before All The Water Dissappears?), 2024, Acrylic, oil, housepaint, chalkboard paint, charcoal drawings, marker, risograph prints, and newsprint, magazine cutouts on canvas, 59 x 47 in.
  • Jonathan Rajewski: Together Apart, Installation View. Photography by Clare Gatto.

Rajewski was born in Bismarck, North Dakota and raised in Midland, Michigan, a small company town known for manufacturing Agent Orange, Napalm B, and bleach. In Together Apart, his work can be read as a dialogue with that industrial and militarized history, composed of paintings, collages, and transmedial objects that eschew craft and constraint in pursuit of a playful, provisional, and improvisational seriality. His artistic practice arises from a life of perennial, quotidian curiosity, attending to social norms and conventional power dynamics by reshaping them into multiple, open-ended processes and possibilities.

  • Jonathan Rajewski, Interdependencies, 2024, House paint, acrylic, spray paint, on canvas, 59 x 47 in.
  • Jonathan Rajewski: Together Apart, Installation View. Photography by Clare Gatto.

At Nina Johnson, the exhibition features a variety of new works, co-establishing and interposing one another. Several paintings are displayed in unanticipated pairings discovered throughout the compositional process and interspersed with collages, stapled fragments wherein the staple is both method of assembly and mark.

  • Jonathan Rajewski, Intra-Actions, 2023, Foil, dichroic film, staples, textbook cutouts on cardboard, 24 x 23.5 x 1.75 (framed)
  • Jonathan Rajewski: Together Apart, Installation View. Photography by Clare Gatto.

Together Apart also includes a collection of Rajewski’s Book Paintings, an ongoing series of bound works consisting of cut up paintings, travel drawings, and accumulated materials that include xeroxes, black pepper, nail polish, and sand. The Book Paintings are made with a variety of fabric ranging from canvas to theatrical costume, and their consistent size and shape make possible numerous interactive arrangements and aesthetic conjunctions, inviting the viewer into a tactile experience that (re)composes the work.

  • Jonathan Rajewski, Book Painting, 2024, Mixed Media, 17 x 16 in.
  • Jonathan Rajewski: Together Apart, Installation View. Photography by Clare Gatto.

“I am trying to make something that I don’t really understand,” said Jonathan Rajewski. “I am interested in indeterminacy. Painting is a form of exploratory thinking and doing, like taking a walk. These works are constitutive of psychological space for me; as zig-zagging, fantasizing, dis/connecting, overwriting, confusing, and unknowable. Disparate things make up the world.”

Together Apart will be on view through July 13th.

  • Jonathan Rajewski, Suns Out, Moons Out, 2023, Oil, acrylic, ink, paper, fabric, vinyl, aluminum on canvas, 70 x 56 in.
Jonathan Rajewski

Jonathan Rajewski (b. 1986, Bismarck, ND) is an artist and writer. He received a BA in Philosophy from Michigan State University and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University. In 2013, Rajewski co-founded the Hamtramck Free School, a rhizomatic educational network that facilitates creative writing and visual art workshops in Michigan prisons, working closely with juveniles who were sentenced to mandatory life without parole, a sentence that is now unconstitutional. In 2022, he established Entry Points, a re- entry artist residency for returning citizens to live and work as artists and writers while they transition to life outside. He is a 2015 Kresge Fellow in Visual Art, a 2021 Critical Practice Research Grantee from the Yale School of Art, a 2024 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Archives Research Resident and a recipient of a 2024 Creative Capital Award. He has exhibited at Nina Johnson Gallery, Miami, Fl; Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY; Jack Hanley Gallery, New York, NY; Reyes Finn, Detroit, MI; Tripoli, Southampton, NY; Sarah Brook Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Yale Review, Mousse Magazine, The Exhibitionist (MIT Press), and Three Fold Press, among others. He lives in Detroit and works in Hamtramck, Michigan.