Artist Statement

 

I am interested in process-based painting, and the profound solitude of the human mind. While exploring one, I sometimes try to formulate something about the other, and how it affects our relationship with the outside world.

My works are made with filler in oak frames. The paintings consist of an approximately 6 mm thick layer of filler, where the various fields are laid beside each other, such as pieces in a puzzle, or an intarsia. I use a few simple, but clearly defined, methods to apply the filler in the frames. This brings to mind Richard Serra's verb list, which can be understood as different ways to affect a material. These methods limit the use of cognitive controlled processes, thus giving an opportunity to reveal something unknown, and letting it be a part of my expression.

I emphasize the cracks that occur when the filler dries, and let them become part of the work. This is reminiscent of Kintsugi, a Japanese art form to repair cracked ceramics with gold-coloured varnish. The philosophy behind this is to treat an object’s history as part of it, by visualizing the damages rather than concealing them, thus embracing the imperfect and decayed.
As a child, I helped my father remove the paint from a rough old wooden table. When the surface of the paint was removed, the coarse cracks of the aged wood were highlighted by the white colour that remained inside them. It was possible to lift the acrylic paint out of the cracks in long strips and expose the clean dry wood beneath them. I think this memory somehow has a bearing on how I work today.

My aesthetics should be perceived as so simple that anyone can perform it. I don’t want to impress, instead, I want to diminish the distance between viewer and work. The rawness of it requires the viewer to be open-minded, but their materiality also makes them distinctly present. They often take the form of series, and sometimes installations that extend into the room.

My work relates to a fundamental alienation I believe exists in man. Perception is the process of creating internal images based on external input. As self-conscious human beings, we observe reality instead of really being in it. It creates a primordial sense of alienation that shapes the human condition. By using paintings ability to examine the relationship between the material surface and the illusory image, I want to make evident this lack, or longing, integrated into our perception of reality. I would also like to explore if this issue can illuminate other forms of social and cultural alienation. For example, the development of privileges, class divisions, racism, and xenophobia. In short, different modes of distance between people.

Johan

Johan Söderström | Grenseveien 9b, Oslo, Norway | t. +47 41 355 355 | jodsoderstrom@gmail.com

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©Johan Söderström 2015