Paul Zimmerman: Nature is a recurring subject in your paintings. Why is it important?
Janni Nyby: Nature gives humans an infinite amount of joy, it is a free space where, among other things, we can recharge, find peace and let ourselves be excited. We all know how bad things can go when we don’t take good care of nature, and although it hasn’t been a conscious mission for me, I think that my paintings are basically a tribute to our lovely Mother Earth. Nature has become “my theme” over time, and the inspiration from there is so strong that it is an eternal source of my urge to create. The fact that I paint with inspiration from nature also means that I continuously sense and see nature with new eyes, and I am again and again amazed and delighted by the magnificent colors and elements. I am indescribably grateful for that duality.
PZ: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
JN: It’s definitely the feeling that there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything I want. I have so many ideas and so much inspiration and desire to participate in endless things, and therefore prioritization is a particularly important point of work for me. Something I have to constantly practice in a world of many exciting offers and opportunities – and I know that it is a privileged challenge to work with.
PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your paintings?
JN: I combine a sea of different techniques and typically start a painting based on preliminary thoughts, which during the creation process can transform in completely different directions before putting the signature on the finished painting. As I paint with many layers and often change both elements and the overall painting many times in the process, I paint with acrylic paints that dry quickly on my canvases. I have a preference for using painting knives in many different versions, sponges, fingers, bamboo skewers and of course brushes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. My approach is best described as abstract expressionist and I love using all colors in the palette. In the painting process itself, the very best thing I know is when colors, shapes, composition and expression come together in a whole where there is both calm and something powerful / energy at play.
PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when your start a new piece?
JN: I typically start my paintings in two different ways. One way is that I have an overall idea or thought from a specific place. It can be with inspiration from a small gem in my local area in Denmark, or from magnificent natural areas in e.g. France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, The Nordics and more. The other way is that I choose some colors and techniques that I want to work with. During this process, my gaze begins to be absorbed by and pursue different motifs and narratives. Regardless of whether I start the painting in one way or another, I love the emergent process, where I continuously draw on what suddenly arises.
PZ: How do you know when the painting is finished?
JN: Something happens in the painting when it is finished. It gathers around and in itself and all elements and colors play together. Before the painting reaches the finished stage, I am disturbed by places in the painting that are not part of the whole but live a life of their own. As I love to experiment, it often takes me a long time to create the painting, because I continuously build up and break down until everything comes together in the expression I want. In this process the painting can move in many directions and “kill your darlings” is a mandatory part in this phase. When everything plays together and there is the right balance between energy and calm, I know the painting is finished.
PZ: Has your practice changed over time?
JN: Yes, it certainly has. My paintings have changed from being primarily in earth colors or tone-on-tone with a purely abstract expression or with jars as a motif, to being colorful nature and landscape abstractions. And from only exhibiting in Denmark, since 2015 I have participated in numerous exhibitions in other countries, e.g. USA, France, Italy, Spain and Austria, and participated in a number of art books and catalogs as well as received several international art awards. In addition, I am permanently associated with various galleries.
PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
JN: I can´t name one or more specific artists I am inspired by, but in general I am inspired by the expressionists, colorists and the great landscape painters. One of Denmark’s best-known art editors and art critic Tom Jørgensen, writes in his review of my paintings in the art book “101 artists 2022/23”, that my paintings show inspiration from early modernism, with Sigurd Swane and Harald Giersing as some of the greatest in Denmark. And yes, like these artists, I break the one-to-one representation of nature and the specific place and create a free and abstract interpretation.
PZ: How would you define yourself as an artist?
JN: I am so privileged that I always have lots of ideas and inspiration for new paintings, and usually have several paintings going at once. When I stand at the white canvas, I love to explore the unknown – what will be created this time? The hours in my studio are therefore fantastic, and the exhibitions where I can meet the visitors and listen to the viewers’ opinions are just as fantastic. I also love to have visitors in my own gallery, where there is often more time for longer conversations with the buyers. The bond that often develops between the buyer and me as an artist is truly enriching, and when my paintings become “a bridge to people”, I become humble and grateful. As a performing artist, I have a great need for freedom in relation to my way of painting. I play best with gallerists and buyers who are willing to give me this space, and commissions always include this freedom. Agreements in connection with exhibitions, art books and various projects I comply with 100%, and am therefore often told that I am easy to work with, which makes me very happy.
PZ: What are you working on now?
JN: I am currently working in several tracks. One track is about a solo exhibition at a well-established and recognized gallery in Denmark, where I will create and deliver numbers of new paintings. The second track is about trying to catch up with some of the orders that some buyers have now been waiting for more than a year due to wild – privileged – rush in 2022. The third track includes contracts with curators, gallerists and other art organizers in connection with exhibitions, art books, magazines and more. In addition, I run my own gallery, where visitors can see my colorful nature and landscape paintings in reality and where we can talk about both the artistic universe and many other exciting topics over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
PZ: What message would you like to send to the world?
JN: Through my paintings, I meet an incredible number of wonderful people who would like to have a conversation about something that interests them as viewers. In this way, my paintings become a “bridge to another person”, and I hope and have a dream that we as people will move up even more to reach out to each other and create even greater cohesion. And in a time when much can seem dark and difficult, it becomes extra important to fill mind and body with good experiences, so that we have energy to deal with the problems. Many of my buyers say how happy they are to look at my paintings, so if my colorful nature and landscape.