Copenhagen-based artist Johan Deckmann’s art is made up of text-heavy work that teeters on a visual narrative of sorts. Initially a psychotherapist, Deckmann’s work consists of fictional book covers with ironic and thought-provoking text tinted with dark humor.
You delve into a more blatant relationship between the abstract and signified through your treatment of type. Do you find this more difficult than abstract representation in allowing for subjectivity and having relatable components?
I aim for a cognitive intervention between my works and the viewer. For me words have just as strong an effect as colors or a figurative expression. Like in ordinary literature or poetry, I think that words in art are able to cut directly to essential themes and touch people across all kinds of borders without ever using any color or other instruments generally associated with fine art. Like a few but relevant or striking words written on a wall in the subway that just hits you. At the same time I see my works as a kind of abstract paintings, that can be interpreted differently depending on who and where you are when they hit your mind. Just like when you read a book again after several years and experience it differently.
Most of your works have the same signature font, how did you come to develop this type?
My type is mainly inspired by an old beautiful poster from a talk that my grandfather gave back in the 1950’s.
Your works translate over perceived boundaries, particularly the stigma many associate with fine art. In addition to this increased accessibility to art, why use book covers as an alternative to canvases?
I use books as my canvas to set your mind in motion. My works are like trailers for books or situations that only lives in your imagination. You are actually the writer, the poet and maybe even the film director of the content of my books.
Thoughts on the phrase “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover”?
I think it’s a wise phrase. I can only confirm that from my work as a psychotherapist. I somehow think that it’s an arrogant approach to judge people by their cover, their surface.
Images courtesy of the Artist