“A Day in the Life” with Montreal Visual Artist Jonathan Mendel

Jonathan Mendel is a very dear friend and a daily source of inspiration, as an artist and a person. He is fascinated by emotions, their different nuances and the shapes and colours they take.

I admire Jo’s courage and his commitment to his art. No matter where life takes him or what he has to face, he always makes time to think deeply about creating and to draw or paint. I feel lucky to have seen his work develop over the course of 10 years.

Jo’s work is full of bold colours and vivid imagery. Animals and faces are recurring motifs of his works. His prints have a striking, yet reflexive quality that I enjoy a lot, which is why I ordered one to put up in my living room.

In Montreal, Jo will be found enjoying the sun in a park, talking about his creative process over a beer with friends, or eating a bagel (ok, several bagels). When a friend is in trouble or needs to celebrate, Jo is only a phone call away and can always be depended on.

-Written by Valérie Bergeron, close friend

Jonathan Mendel
Me in front of one of my paintings
Jonathan Mendel
Lion trapped inside human body. Vitality craving expression, unable to get out. Shame and repression, an inescapable lid. Hands cover body and face, a prison of sewage. Gagged tears wash into pool of stagnation, rushing down into the body. Waves crash. Lion thrashes, frantic. Panting for air, head barely above water, limbs dance. Violently confined feverish claws pierce body from the inside. Blood spills. Soft tender hills of flesh emerge from the tremors.
Attempting to flow like sheets in the wind. Getting caught in a rainstorm of nails. Eruptions where they puncture, petrifying where they land, pinned to the ground. But the dance continues
Internal window
Jonathan Mendel
Layers of numbness. Walls of insolation covering grief the weight of boulders, and claws upon claws of fear lashing out. And then, crouched raw meat
Jonathan Mendel
Sun after rain


Which ‘hood are you in?

I live in Mile End, between Fairmount Bagels (which, I firmly state, are better than St-Viateur Bagels) and Mount Royal. Being so close to the mountain is wonderful because I get to go for walks in the woods and almost forget I’m in the city.

What do you do?

I am a visual artist whose focus is painting and drawing. I like to tread the line between figuratism and abstraction, as well as structure and chaos. What I aim to do is give form to the shapelessness of emotions. More specifically, my work revolves around the internal and external struggle to feel free to completely be oneself. And never give up.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on building a body of work to present to the public. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to say with my work and how I would ideally like it to contribute to other people’s lives. I want my art to be about more than drowning in difficult emotions. I want it to be about facing these emotions, dealing with them and moving forward, closer to freedom.

Where can we find your work?

The best place to see my work is on Instagram.


About Emilea Semancik 69 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: