Jussi Goman in his studio, 2017
On a String, 2016
Acrylic on canvas
80 x 70 cm / 31.5h x 27.6 inches
Snug Fit, 2016
Acrylic on canvas
80 x 70 cm / 31.5h x 27.6 inches
Jussi Goman exhibition 2016
Jussi Goman in his studio, 2015
JUSSI GOMAN AND THE COLORS OF THE ‘80S
Jussi Goman, you have delighted the Finnish art scene with your signature color-drenched acrylic paintings that revel in mischievous distorted perspectives, allusions to art history, and the light-hearted exuberance of popular art. The plastic sheen of the acrylic paint and your unusual details endow your still life compositions and facial portraits with fresh, surprising content. Many viewers have noted a kinship between your style and the Fauves, especially Henri Matisse.
1. What is your relationship with art history?
It provides a good foundation for adding new extensions – or even building a whole new house – but the ‘new build’ always occupies the common territory of art history. When I’m painting, however, I don’t think about art history or any particular artist, nor do I contemplate any category in which to pigeonhole my next painting. I focus purely on the inner life of the painting itself.
2. Your paintings are easy to recognize by their anti-realistic, eye-popping colors and dynamic brushstrokes. What do colors mean to you?
Colors create the mood of the painting. I don’t have a favorite color, but I often indulge myself and play around with a particular hue or color combination until I get bored and move on to a new, more interesting spectrum of shades.
I work intuitively and I react to the world and the events going on around me through colors. My latest paintings revisit the colors of my childhood from the ‘80s: a bright orange cigarette packet peeking from the breast pocket of a white collared shirt, and the neon-and-pastel shades of rustling windbreaker suits.
3. Certain motifs and details keep recurring in your paintings – such as dinner tables, adhesive bandages and globs of acrylic paint that resemble discarded chewing gum. How did these particular details find their way into your art?
I like to use simple visual motifs that are familiar to everyone. They become sort of an obsession. I harness these motifs, each in its own way, in an attempt to create the ‘perfect painting’. A dinner table provides a good surface for laying out the visual elements I wish to ‘serve up’ to the viewer. The table motif is also a reference to the legacy of the still life genre. The globs of acrylic chewing gum add dynamism by disrupting the two-dimensional surface. The adhesive bandages serve as a device for correcting compositional errors, or for tying together disparate color planes.
The torch is a new recurrent motif in my latest paintings. I painted my first torch composition in a state of shock the day after Donald Trump won the US presidential elections. The torch-bearing Statue of Liberty has been a symbol welcoming migrants to the US for centuries, but now it has become interwoven with divisive symbols like barbed wire and the Mexico Wall.
4. There are many humorous elements in your paintings, and it seems like you have fun when you’re painting. How would you describe your process?
I continually try to discover something new and inspiring about painting. I experiment, cut-and-paste and transfigure the paint in order to find a fresh, new angle on this time-honored, highly traditional form of artistic expression. A considerable part of my process involves simply staring at the canvas and trying to comprehend the unfinished piece.
When it all flows spontaneously, the process is fun and enjoyable, and it’s during these moments that I am most likely to produce a painting that I am personally happy with. On the flipside, there are times when nothing seems to flow at all. On the rare occasions that I get stuck in a rut, or exasperated with what I am doing, I make a radical departure. I usually find a fresh angle by studying art history, or by immersing myself in music-listening for weeks on end. Days like this are necessary, because they force you to question yourself and rethink what you are doing from a fresh perspective. Luckily audiences only get to see the fruits of my good days.
Quite often the seeds of my next works are planted in each successive exhibition. This might be a motif, a color, a shape or some fragment of the composition that I want to explore in further detail. It’s easier to start fresh when you have something to build around: in a way, you partially overcome the fear of the blank canvas.
5. Your next solo exhibition opens in September: what we can expect?
I am intrigued by acrylic paint and I want to explore as many ways as possible to use it. In my latest works, I have experimented with a new technique: collage. I have painted large gel sheets with spray paint and then cut them into shape and glued them onto the canvas. This enables richer, more diverse use of the paints, but it has also introduced a new sharpness and playfulness to my compositions. For my upcoming compositions, I have also experimented with paper collages for the very first time. They engage in a mutually enriching dialogue with my canvases.