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"Just like we are all the sum of our experiences, my works are clearly a reflection of my view on life. " - An artist interview with Johan Deckmann

Johan Deckmann was born in 1976 in Copenhagen, where he continues to live and work today. As both an artist and practicing psychotherapist, Deckmann takes found objects, namely books, and paints witty titles or pensive phrases in English which provide satirical commentary on the complexities of life. Deckmann’s psychological background directly informs his artistic practice, which incorporates universally relatable fears and commonly experienced trials and tribulations. While seemingly modest in form, the artist’s works employ the power of language to their full extent—albeit in a playful manner—pushing viewers towards self-reflection. Over the past several years, Deckmann has shown in numerous exhibitions across the globe, including in Copenhagen, New York, London, Tokyo, Rome, and São Paulo. His work is also part of the public art collection Colección SOLO in Madrid.

"Just like we are all the sum of our experiences, my works are clearly a reflection of my view on life. " - An artist interview with Johan Deckmann

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: In your own words, can you tell us about yourself and your artwork?

I’m a Copenhagen text-based artist. My work is partly based on my experience as a practicing psychotherapist.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: When did you first know you wanted to be an artist and what first inspired you to become an artist?

I guess I knew that already as a young boy. My mother was a painter and she introduced me to the joy of creating. The first thing I did was writing stories. So, I guess I actually started out as text-based and then returned to the written word.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Are there any particular artists or movements that have greatly influenced your work? In what way?

Not really. But when I started painting in my 20’s I was inspired by the American pop art scene of the 1960’s. I currently find some aesthetic inspiration in the work of Bram Bogart, which isn’t really related to my own work. But in general, I don’t draw inspiration from specific artists or movements.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How has your background shaped your artistic practice?

Just like we are all the sum of our experiences, my works are clearly a reflection of my view on life.

I find human behavior very fascinating, not only in my psychological practice but in general. Just as in therapy you want to find the core, I see it as my task to find the core through my words.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How has your creative process changed over the years?

I started composing music as a teenager and I painted in my 20’s. Later I also made sculptures and in 2018 I published my first book. But in my current text-based practice, my creative process hasn’t really changed. I observe and imagine, I write it down and at some point, it becomes a work.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How do you select your topics or themes?

I let my curiosity lead the way. It depends on what occupies my attention at the current moment. It can be about anything from narcissism to family relationships to pets to something current in the news.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Can you tell us a bit about a few specific pieces you have created that you are particularly proud of?

I only have one piece that I’ve never wanted to sell. It’s a book piece “The Way You Felt” that says “How to feel the way you felt before you knew what you know now”. It’s about growing up and the loss of innocence. It’s about leaving the lightness of childhood and becoming aware of life’s realities. It’s a written portrait of the irreversible farewell to the child’s world. The heaviness that comes with that specific awareness.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Tell us about your latest body of work

Then I will choose the spray painting “Existence” that says “I like the concept of existence but I’m not like blown away”. For me it’s about modern narcissism and arrogance. What’s the ultimate arrogant approach to everything? I think it might be if you made this statement and actually meant it. It’s a written portrait of a certain attitude and mentality blown into omnipotence.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects that you are excited about?

Yes, but unfortunately, I can’t lift the veil yet.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What do you think is the most important aspect of creating a successful artwork?

A sense of some kind of relevance.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What themes or topics are you exploring in your current artwork?

Materialism vs. the ideal life.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How has your artwork evolved since you first started making art?

I feel like I’m getting closer to the core.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What has been the most rewarding part of your career as a studio artist?

Being able to share my works with my audience. I’m very thankful for that.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Are there any particular projects or themes you would like to explore in the future?

Video art and installation art.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What do you think is the most important skill a studio artist should have?

Honesty and courage. Also as a human being.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your creative career?

To be a not very social person when it would be most appropriate to be a social person.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What advice would you give to aspiring studio artists?

Be honest and courageous.

Johan Deckmann

Johan Deckmann

Apr 20, 2023

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