MARTINE JOHANNA



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  1. Color, form, and composition as language, exploring adolescence, sexual judgement, inner worlds and dualism, shaping the internal landscape.

Mark
THSLFE
Juli 2010

Firstly, thank you for your time, what’s been happening?


There has been happening a lot actually, I just finished putting some work together for a group show tomorrow (Saturday) in Amsterdam and Sunday, I have another group show in Den Bosch, called Popjugend. That one is my favorite, I’ve made 3 160x133cm sized drawings; portraits of Fever Ray’s Karin Drejier Andersson, Natasha Khan from Bat for Lashes and Tori Amos. (image) All works are made with graphite pencil, tape and paper collage and some have embroidery or bells and beads. I kind of lived with these portraits for a few weeks, being able only to work on them late at night or any other spare minute. I love them all three because of that process…
Now I did some illustrations for the new Gestalten fashion illustration book coming out this September. Summer holidays are coming up and I will try and focus only on my very first solo exhibit half September at the Spui 23 Amsterdam, which I really look forward to.

For those who are unfamiliar with you and what you do, can you tell us a bit about yourself and walk us through your typical day?

Ouf… well each day is amazingly different. It usually starts at 8am with shower, news, coffee and breakfast, then checking emails and my schedule and appointments. If I need to do some illustrations, I mostly do that from home, researching the subject, corresponding with my contacts and drawing till late night. But if I can concentrate on my autonomous works, I take my bike to the harbor where I have a studio in an old broken down warehouse. It’s right by the waterside, I know it sounds romantic, it is actually, except for the factories and the boats docking and loading or unloading.
I love working there closed of from internet, I’m ignoring the fact that I do own an Iphone and can’t help checking that now and then… Playing music and painting or drawing just by what I feel like in that moment..it is wonderful. One of the highlights of my life is going to the art supply store and buying new supplies, I love that soo much I put the most of what I earn back into new materials.

You’re an amazingly diverse artist, fashion, stop motion film, sculpture, pencils, paint – You really are a master of all trades, have you been involved in any formal training, or are you just freakishly talented?

Hahahah, wow, well I do have a masters degree in arts, although I did study fashion design. I do not consider myself freakishly talented, I am happy that I can express myself in this manner. Somehow I don’t feel that there is much of a difference in media, it is the story that I translate into a tangible form. I need to learn much though, but I like to learn it from doing it myself and failing and again failing. I am my worst critic, sounds like a cliché, but it’s the truth. Making art or trying to, is suffering, the suffering makes beauty, or..whatever you perceive as being beautiful.

I see various recurring themes through your work, sex, temptation, fantasy, dreams, mythology, innocence and ecstasy being some of those, do you consciously work such themes and metaphorical imagery in to your work, or am I reading too far in to it? Are these themes an extension of what’s going on in your own mind, or social observations?

Those elements are absolutely there, it is not a conscious process though. And it’s very introverted. I have no intension of brining a message to unite mankind. As far as I can remember, already as a girl I had these elaborate tale like phantasies. Coming of age, becoming a teenager, added sex to it. I did not really know then what to do with that or how to turn it in to something real without damaging myself or being judged over it. It took a long time before it all fell into place.

On that same note, where do you draw your inspiration from?

Inspiration for me is in life’s little and big personal tragedies. It is in love and loss. In music, art, movies, memories. And in natures beauty big and fragile.

You began making art as a child, how has your style and subject matter developed over the years?

As a child I also drew nude ladies or models from fashion magazines like Harpers Bazaar. You should have heard my mum back then, she thought I would become a lesbian, but I loved boys way too much, which also gave her nightmares. I also drew horses and unicorns with wings, elf’s and such. I also copied well known paintings like the Mona Lisa in water color, I still have that one, it’s really funny but it looks quite good for a 13 year old painter.

What’s going through your mind when you’re developing an idea?

It’s like this feverish dream that gets hold of me and I need to let it out. Something triggers that need, it can be music, a situation, or just walking outside. If I handle it to artificially, nothing comes out.

Your style seems to draw elements from so many different areas of art, your subject matter and choice of medium is also very diverse, what element of art do you feel most comfortable or at home with?

Right now I am closer to paper and graphite even adding some collage. I love the preciseness of drawing. But it tends to change, I feel I need to paint more again now. I tend to learn one thing thoroughly and then switch. Switching methods is what seems to keep me sharp. I love having that freedom…

You were a Fashion Designer for 10 years before you pursued your art, what made you say “Fuck it, I’m going to make this happen”?

When I was told to drop art to keep my job; that was so off-putting… The fashion industry is a harsh world, I loved designing and I was good at it, but the commercial side, restrictions and mentality was killing my creativeness. Seeing the end product and consistency of a collection going to waste was a reoccurring disappointment. I would still love to design, but maybe more in an art sense. Even though I still teach in the field of fashion. Walking away from that ‘world’ was the best thing; I’m now happier than ever.

I think I read somewhere that during your time as a Designer you didn’t make any other art, is there any truth to that?

It is, I was not doing too well personally, I battled depressions and never felt adequate. Drawing something would only worsen that feeling, because it reflects my personal state, just too confronting.

What other artists do you look up to or draw inspiration from?

I always loved Egon Schiele, Mucha, the Preraphaelites, Rietveld, Mondriaan and on a more contemporary note, I would say Vania, Yoshitomo Nara, Louis Reith, Guillaume Soulatges, Casey Weldon and some more. It is a variable list, they all have in common that when experiencing their work, it takes you into an alternate reality. For some it is more the techniques that fascinate me, for some the flow, or the abstractness. Also the use of color, texture and balance really appeals to me. I can get ecstatic about even a small singular thing in their works.

How do you approach a new work? Take us through your creative process.

My creative process includes me keeping myself updated on anything that’s going on, on a creative level. I mean movies, books, art, photography, installations, exhibits, musea, music, concerts, or just walking around outside, having a beer alongside one of the canals in Amsterdam. When actually drawing or painting, that action emerges from an idea or obsession brewing in my mind. I need to let that out. The work is never premeditated, it comes and grows by itself. It’s quite hypnotizing and I can go on for hours and hours until my shoulder cramps up. Usually during working I have music on that enhances my mood, or when I need more stimulance I turn on a movie too, being a girl you can do more things simultaneously, hahah.

What are five things that you always pack with you on your travels?

My Iphone, small sketchbook, pencils, toiletries, wallet

What’s in your pockets right now?

Iphone, loose change, lip balm, artsupply receipt.

What have you been reading, listening to and watching lately?

Reading: Tommy Wieringa (Dutch author), Stephen King, loads of magazines, Listening: Fever Ray, Tame Impala, John Lennon, Modern Witch, Ladytron, The Knife, Trentemoller, The Drums est….Watching: All things Horror, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Gummo, House of a 1000 corpses, Secret world of haute couture (docu), a Serious man and almost all videos from Martin de Thurah.

We live in turbulent times, what are your views on the world and society today?

We have always lived in turbulent times, ever since we came to exist. Only the structure of turbulence changes, but never the reasons. Mankind has always been ambitious at the costs of others and the environment. It is funny that religion once was invented by politicians to structure the peoples behavior. So many people still follow religion blindly, never seeming to question it. No one seems to realize that the one power that keeps us alive and we are a part of, is nature itself. No one honors life really, we all choose the convenient thing, the easy road. I know I do often as well.. We continue to ‘develop’ modern technology and health care. But if we calculate our chances according to evolutionary standards, the human race will face extinction sooner than later. The environment and products we consume have been polluted with medicine residue, as such the most unlikely of threads are immune to our medicine and become a death hazard. Every time I visit the supermarket, products are overly packaged in plastics, we get brochures we don’t ask for, we get world cup gifts made out of plastic, which we all throw in the garbage bin in a few weeks, overconsumption is so annoyingly deep intergrated in our lives. I hear people complaining about BP, but still they drive their cars and buy oil manufactured products every day. I think Obama tried to make a point about it having his speech to the American people. But the people all choose the easy way out. I feel that a green program has to be a first priority in any government. But what the heck right? Lets follow a religion in which we can blame others for our misery, lets complain, lets buy stuff we dont need, lets be ambitious over sense, lets be frustrated that we dont have the stuff the neighbour has, lets extensivly over protect ourselves with antibacterial devises, lets be naive so our lovely planet can be released and free of mankind as soon as possible.. (I’m being cinical there, so you know…)
Oh and well, culture has been tucked away neatly in the folds of political power. So let’s say we would improve our lives, wouldn’t it be great if we have a heritance for the future generations in the form of all kinds of art and original culture…?

Anything coming up that we should know about?

I’m not much of a planner, but there is a show coming up in September and I just got invited by a traveling show…So either check my website regularly and/or follow my social media.