Jana Euler’s giant shark paintings play with subconscious fears and toxic masculinity. Is the art world ready for her radical lust for freedom?
Fräulein Print #1/2020: The Beast Within
Founder and Editor in Chief at SOFT EIS Magazine, Lilo Dossenbach writes up for our Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Fräulein Magazine on the artist of Jana Euler.
This article is taken from the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Fräulein Magazine
Jana Euler’s Great White Fear dominates the whitewashed walls of the gallery space.
At 3 x 2 meters each, they occupy a space that has been for so long controlled by a different long storied and mythologized beast: the white, middle-class male. It seems only fitting that Euler puts the two in the same boat. However, we know the end of the line for poor old Jaws, wherein he gets turned into shark fin soup to be devoured and slurped up by our own proud conquerors. Euler herself exists in the purgatory of the female painter – simultaneously in the art world, yet still outside of the inner circle. She makes a vivid commentary on man’s number one attachment: “Don’t you see darling, they’re not just penises but incisive social commentary.” The fear that is displayed in the painting GWF 4 could very well be Euler’s own, so how better to join the ranks than to laugh at them. The court jester was nevertheless in the court. The beauty of satire is the endless feedback loop that is created. Are the sharks afraid of us or are we afraid of them? Do we really instill fear in the Great White Shark or are we being lulled into a false sense of security?
Euler’s paintings are a breath of fresh air in the otherwise stale art world. An all too frequent joke made about opening nights is that nobody really cares about the art, if it’s not about being seen, it’s about the free booze. Euler changes that with her 3-meter high, veiny, bulging sharks thrusting out of the water and into your face. You can almost hear a moan and groan of absolute frustration from the open jaws.
2018 saw the start of the great #metoo movement and for the first time, women experienced something entirely new: men were afraid to talk. Afraid of landing on the wrong side of history with any statement that could cause a furious uproar, somehow not unlike GWF1, only with slightly less teeth. The paintings are grotesque, vile, and utterly delightful as they represent a drive to no longer self-censor in a time of great censorship.
Have the sands really run out for white men, though? If contemporary politics is anything to go by, then the answer would be a firm no. Euler knows this, we know this, you know this. Boris was voted into office despite his staggering racism, Trump was acquitted of his impeachment. Maybe Euler has taken over this traditional space in some regard, but the biggest joke of all is our supposed new freedom. For the world outside of the gallery walls, life carries on as always.
Text: Lilo Dossenbach
This article is taken from the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Fräulein Magazine, available in both English and German