“Magic Mermaid” by Jo Ouisse: A Painting with a Story
At KAZoART, we will often choose an original work by one of our artists and reveal the story behind it. Today, we invite you to discover Jo Ouisse’s painting, Magic Mermaid, a disenchanted fairy tale and a satirical remark on our society with a penchant for hyper-consumption.
Jo Ouisse in a few words
Through his art, Jo Ouisse seeks to surprise, awaken or reawaken our consciences while also painting a satirical portrait of the society in which we live. As a painter, illustrator and graphic designer with over 10 years’ experience, Jo Ouisse defines his style as that of the “New Contemporary Art movement” which lies at the crossroads of Realism and Street Art. His paintings are generally executed in a large format. He delivers clear-cut colours to create works that are as surprising to examine as they are to analyse.
Hope or the end?
At first glance, the most striking aspect is the heavy visuals that weigh on the canvas. Two thirds of the painting is occupied by a charged, leaden sky which is depicted in a wide range of shades. Our gaze is then immediately captured by the doughnut, positioned in the sky like a sugary halo. Its positioning gives height and delicacy to the painting. As the giant doughnut levitates above the sea, an even more surreal scene is taking place below.
In Jo Ouisse’s work, the most miniscule of details are significant and deserve attention. The doughnut is a symbol of the sugar-crazed Western pop culture that feasts on over-consumption both in its diet and lifestyle. Under the scorching heat, the doughnut melts and its sprinkles fall to the ground. These hundreds and thousands inevitably wash up on the shore and end up with the crew of absurd characters lying about. The manner in which Jo Ouisse depicts the dropping of the sprinkles could be compared to a dropping of bombs.
Between sky and sea, there is no importance, only abyss. For Jo Ouisse, the sea is a place of concern. Its rising temperatures continues to alarm scientists who urge the public to protect the environment. Conditions for both humans and animals are tense. But the sea is also a place of a current migratory crisis. Jo Ouisse reminds us of such by inserting a paper boat in the right corner of the canvas. Drifting, at sea, it is lost but still afloat in the tumultuous flow of the waves. This is the artist’s subtle nod to the events taking place off the shores of the Mediterranean.
In a show of beached anthology, the mermaid, penguins and shark lay washed up on the coast, each reflecting a disenchanted world, one that has run its course. Here, the shark seems completely harmless, he is literally flat. For the artist, this serves as a representation of certain ethnic communities that were systematically persecuted to the point of collapse. The shark’s “neighbours”, two penguins, are fighting fiercely over a bag and other plastic waste. It’s as if their only place of refuge can be found in that which they are trying to escape. It rises up in the sea and washes ashore, over and over again.
And finally, the most metoaphorical and stand-out character in the whole painting is this magic mermaid – the painting’s namesake. She is the real metaphor for today’s fairytales. There she poses in the sand, obviously having done this before. Opulent and clearly indulgent, this Ariel 2.0 proudly sports an American flag swimsuit. As a headdress, she wears a cabbage, likely the last object she found. She personifies all of the problems conveyed in this painting: she is only giving importance to herself and neglects the immediate truth of that which is taking place around her.
Ariel has lost her magic, the handsome prince will not come. This fairytale does not end quite like Disney’s. What will people heed the wake-up call?Jo Ouisse
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