Artist Lena Johansson Turns the Humble T-Shirt Into Artwork

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Artist Lena Johansson Turns the Humble T-Shirt Into Artwork
Artist Lena Johansson Turns the Humble T-Shirt Into Artwork

Artwork and style, style and artwork: The 2 are at all times circling one another, coming collectively, pulling aside, and starting their shy dance yet again. One among their newer convergences was a cheerful however quiet one and happened not on a runway or a billboard however at an artwork honest in Stockholm, the place Lena Johansson, a reedy Swede now primarily based in London, exhibited an set up that includes works painted on low-cost cotton T-shirts. The small format the artist prefers will increase the “intensity” of her output, as does her lush, sensuous brush approach, which creates a “high gloss” feeling that extends, and feedback on, the shiny industrial—and trendy—imagery a lot of her work relies on. Right here she talks to us about her type, inspiration, and the mop-topped mannequin Kerkko Sariola.

How did the T-shirt exhibition come about?
I knew I needed to do one thing impressed by London and the environment right here. I additionally needed to research what portray will be and do. Then out of the blue an idea got here to me that I felt would permit me to pursue topics I had been considering and asking questions on. What would occur if I painted an unique work from life-style media instantly on a really low-cost white T-shirt? How wouldn’t it be learn in that context? I assumed it was a enjoyable idea for an artwork honest and really simple to move. I’m nonetheless very glad with it.

What have been you references for the T-shirt collection?
I at all times attempt to let my instinct select, but it surely’s essential they’re industrial, public, and broadly unfold. For these work I used photos revealed in U.Ok. magazines of the second.

What’s your private relationship with style?
The primary phrase I consider is enjoyable. I additionally affiliate style with plenty of creativity and lust. I’ve at all times been excited by style, even when more often than not my outfit consists of my work garments—previous trousers with plenty of paint stains, actually worn-out shirts, and Birkenstocks. That is the costume of the studio, my favourite place in the entire world.

Are you able to speak a bit about your lush, textural use of paint?
First I take advantage of gesso to create a floor to color on, after which I take advantage of oil coloration. I play with completely different textures, however you will need to me that the colours and the construction have that feeling of smudgy, gooey lust that’s distinctive to grease paint. I’m very delicate to the luminosity of the colours. Apart from the painted picture, the T-shirt items are fairly imperfect and tough, displaying traces of the portray course of with drips and stains and spots and soiled fingerprints and even holes from the staples, as a result of the material is so fragile.

How did you come to color from photographic sources?
A very long time in the past, in my second 12 months on the Malmö Artwork Academy, I felt I wanted to interrupt free and do all the pieces that was thought of flawed in portray, which included portray from images, particularly industrial ones. I’ve at all times had a really ambivalent method to those pictures. As a teen I used to be dreaming about these improbable worlds on the similar time I used to be listening to my father, who used to work with gender-discriminating publicity on the Swedish Client Company (Konsumentverket) and introduced house many publications with crucial analyses on the topic.

After portray this manner for some time, I discovered there was extra to [these images than I had thought] and that I used to be actually excited by style pictures and industrial imagery. My opinion is that they’re deeply important, they speak to our desires and our needs, they usually actually know methods to catch our deepest longings. I feel these pictures are deeply human and communicate to our want for magnificence, seduction, sexuality, flirtation—all that belongs to us. It’s ours to take. When making ready for a portray, I see as every other object—like a cup or a hat—and I be happy to look at it by portray. I’m to see what’s going to occur to this imagery because it filters by me and the portray course of, which adjustments its medium and context.

As a result of a lot of these pictures encompass us and are so widespread in our lives, they’re additionally an essential widespread story amongst us, and I discover them very crucial to debate. I’m not so keen on the truth that we talk a lot of our id by manufacturers; I feel it’s unhealthy for our well being and well-being to interpret all these wants and desires into consumption and change them with sure merchandise. As many others are, I’m additionally very involved about local weather change and the way style’s want for fixed development usually ends in merchandise that lack high quality and cautious consideration, like a T-shirt that can’t be washed or used multiple time earlier than getting holes and dropping its kind. That’s good for nobody. I actually like and have an awesome respect and love for craft and craftsmanship, and I agree with the ideas of William Morris and Swedish writer-philosopher Ellen Key that to be surrounded by good design and a good looking surroundings is nice for well being and creates happiness and luxury.

I perceive the work may proceed with Kerkko Sariola?
It’s so enjoyable with Kerkko. Mathias Fältmarsch, who runs the company that represents him, noticed the exhibition, acknowledged Kerkko as one of many topics, and wrote me a letter. It was the primary time ever that somebody who truly has a private relationship with a mannequin in one among my work, who truly is aware of him, had contacted me. I assumed that was so stunning and am so glad Kerkko favored the work—he even put it up on his Instagram. Proper now we’re discussing if I’ll paint a portrait of Kerkko from a photograph that he chooses himself, in the best way he desires to be portrayed. Nothing is determined but, however I feel that could possibly be a pleasant and exquisite twist to the undertaking.

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