JOHN REUSS / JUTLAND, DENMARK
My work is characterized by contrasts - the juxtaposition of opposites on several levels - which is recognized throughout my paintings. Fine detail, drawn lines and meticulously painted shapes clash with bold brushstrokes, spatters and blurred contours. Soft organic shapes and multifaceted figures meet hard, calculated geometric abstractions.
The world I depict is not a physical location in space and time. It is an inner world, a world where thought, emotion and raw cognition defines not only the figures, but also the space they inhabit.
For me the creative process is a key to that inner, psychological world - balancing on the border of the conscious and subconscious and revolving around themes like how we relate to the world we live in, the definition of “self” contra the surrounding world, our bodily integrity and mortality.
My work often deals with issues such as alienation, loneliness and the pursuit of an unattainable inner harmony. In general I am very interested in the inner life of people and that carries through in the way my figures turn out. Their various disfigurements, missing body parts and multiple angles is a symbol of their psychology and cognitive mechanisms.
Prjct Social / INTERVIEW
How is the art scene in your city/country compared to the U.S/Michigan? Are their distinct differences that you’ve noticed in sales approach, perception of your work, and personal taste?
I have no basis for making that comparison. Although I have some US collectors buying my work, they are doing so from galleries here in Denmark. I do have an idea that the art world in the US might be a bit more diverse than here - and that there is an interest in my work.
Walk us through a day in the studio. When you are fully committed to working on a new or current piece, what is your mindset, goals you keep in mind? What kind of mood does your space give off?
I do not really get the notion that you have to be inspired or fully committed as such to create. The key is to draw inspiration and drive from the work itself. I'll go into the studio even on days where I do not feel like it and start working. After a little while I'll be on track and in dialogue with the painting in question.
My space is a big old mess! floors, walls, ceiling, everything is covered in layers of paint - you would not be in doubt as far as what goes on in that space! I'm sort out a scatterbrain, I work best in a creative chaos- and that is exactly the vibe you get from my studio.
Give our audience some insight on who these characters are? What influences helped shape your imagination and authentic style?
I do not see the characters in my work as "who" but more like an expression of the inner workings of a person, feelings, an inner turmoil, the psychology of perception, etc.
I discovered surrealism in my early teens and that really pushed me from doing natural paintings, trying to recreate the seen, to a whole other perspective and interest in what else art could do - like trying to convey the unseen.
What do you do when you aren’t painting? Any other hobbies or vices you can’t live without?
Basically I do not have much of a life outside painting - as far as hobbies I've dabbled a bit into sound creation / synthesis and I love to read.
Can you remember the first time you picked up a paintbrush? When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
I was about 10 when I was gifted my first set of brushes and cheap oil paint! Which is about the time where realized this is something I enjoyed. But the road from then to now has been long and winding.
How has it been working with Prjct OMNi for this installation in Northern Michigan? What made you decide to work with our platform?
So far everything has gone smoothly and well. I was approached about participating and after giving it some thought, I decided to try something new. This is a little bit out of my "comfort zone" which is the gallery world - so let's see where it goes!
When someone looks at your work, what do you want them to feel?
Well it is not so much a question of what they feel - but more that they actually feel and experience something at all. I do want to push the experience in a certain direction as the major themes of my work is some of the more heavy existential stuff - and often revolves around feelings of inner turmoil, fragmentation, loneliness and alienation.
Do you have a selection of pieces or a private catalog that you will never sell?
Not really - in fact I'm not a big fan of having things on my walls, nor of hanging on to stuff....
What do you want to happen to your work once life is said and done? How would you like to be remembered?
Once you create something and it is done - you release into the world where it has to live its own terms. So I suppose that is what I hope for my work - to keep on circulating and giving meaning to people out there. I do not care too much about what other people think of me as a person - not now and even less when I'm dead.