Artist Interviews 2022
By Johnny Otto
Johannes, your artwork looks like alien pods that have washed up on a beach or been found in a field. What are your inspirations and influences?
Most of my sculptures are inspired by amorph and natural forms. I love the nature and every season has its very special magic for me. But the danger of a sustained destruction because of pollution and littering is ubiquitous and a big influence for my artwork. It is my way to handle this threat. Using waste materials, especially beverage cartons as one of the most unnecessary materials, is my subliminal accusation and warning. It is also a signal how overqualified most of our waste materials are.
My first circle of artwork describes an utopian world after our currently capitalism epoch, which is made out of trash and waste, because there is no other natural material left. Reconstructing natural forms and objects out of waste materials by an old traditional handcraft like origami is a tribute to the wonders of nature and the human primeval skills and creative spirit.
Where are you from and did you go to school for art or are you self taught?
I was born in 1991 in Hesse/Germany in a little town, surrounded by beautiful, wild nature.
Between 2013 and 2018 I studied architecture at the university of Siegen.
During this time I also took many lectures in art practice. That was really good to widen the view for unusual designs and influences. I needed some years to structure all impressions and consolidate what I had learned there.
Today I connect both disciplines in a contemporary and forward looking context. For years I´m dealing nearly every day with art, designs and anything that has to do with that.
So in the end I think my art is founded by school knowledge and also self taught.
What is Kusudama Origami?
Kusudama is a special and original way of Origami. It is a paper model which is built by multiple identical units sewed or fold to a round object. To create my artwork I´m using the art of Kusudama or modular Origami. It needs a high level of accuracy and a long time to accomplish an object. Every sculpture builds a geodesic construction and doesn`t need any glue.
Do you believe that art has the power to change the world?
In our current world: Definitely not! Our world and the most societies are dependent on money and capitalism. That fact is so powerful and puts all in background. With another system of values, more humanity, civil courage, social behavior and justice the real influence of art and different cultures could grow. On my opinion we as a human society should try to aim for a way like this to reach a healing world, where art has more power to contribute to it and a higher priority. In my view art can be actually a window for utopic thoughts and dreams. I love to look through this window.
What are the materials and processes that you use to create?
One of the most important materials for me are beverage cartons. These cartons are high end products and made of many different layers of paper, plastics and metals. They are very harmful for our environment but really good for me and my designs. It´s a flexible and durable material which can be cut and folded very easily.
In general, I try to use trash and waste materials. From a first idea to reduce the tons of garbage trough a creative way it comes to an important way to express a message with the material of my sculptures and designs.
Are you currently showing your work or do you have any shows coming up?
At the moment I don´t show my work in an exhibition or a gallery, but during the last four years I have shown my work at one or two exhibitions every year. I´m a relatively young artist without a connection to a gallery or artist agency, therefore it´s hard to find good shows or exhibitions and get the possibility to publish there. For the next two years I strive to show my work more often. Regular I publish and sell my artwork at the internet, so my website and Instagram is always up to date and you can see the newest designs and work.
Who would you love to collaborate with? Why?
Among others I admire the designs and ideas of Shigeru Ban. He is an exceptional architect. This symbiosis of unusual materials like cardboards or woods and the impressive structures and statical systems are very imposing for me.
Not less I like the work of the Belgian architect and artist Luk Shuiten. For the first time I saw his futuristic and surreal designs of ´vegetal city´ in an open air exhibition in Metz, France in 2017. The organic structures, amorph forms and straight static or geodesic systems of both architects have an huge impact to my work.
So I would love to collaborate with these men to get more inspiration, understand their way to an great design and learn more about their remarkable work and goals.
Do you listen to music when you create and how does it affect your mood?
Sometimes I listen to music during my creative work phase. But never the music I hear all day.
Normally I´m a fan of classic rock, punk and alternative sounds. When I do artwork I need slow instrumental sounds, jazz or classical music to concentrate and feel free in my work. Often I hear playlists full of songs and artists I never heard before so I have no old feelings or memories in my head. On some days I use an old turntable to hear music. It´s a ceremonial way to calm down and start my artwork.
In general sounds and music should help me finding a peaceful and concentrated mood to create my artwork and draw strength out of creative train of thoughts. That is also the reason I often light some candles in my small atelier for a cozy atmosphere.
Other days I enjoy the pure silent and do artwork without any music. On these days I often forget time.