Artist portrait: Johanne Lykke
On one of those grey October mornings, I had the pleasure of meeting Johanne Lykke, a Copenhagen-based artist. From her studio in Copenhagen’s North West area, Johanne creates abstract art works in a vivid array of colours. Ranging from smaller sketches to 3 by 2 meters wall hangings, Johanne has a bold, yet minimal line. Using a variety of mediums, including crayons and spray paint, she exploits form and texture in a very graphic manner, and I personally love her visual style. It’s energetic, yet very delicate. The warm hues on the paper rolls, the splash of eccentric pink and the unrefined edges of the papir are just a few quick ones to get your mind going on what her work is all about. Take a look at the photos and immerse yourself in this beautiful universe.
Johanne grew up on the island of Fyn in Denmark. She moved to Aarhus to study Fine Art at The Jutland Art Academy. From 2013 to 2014 she studied abroad at Oxbox Artist fall Residency program followed by an independent study in Chicago and then completed Residency Unlimited’s Artist Residency Program in New York. After having completed her degree in 2015, she moved to Berlin. Since 2017, Johanne has been based in Copenhagen, working out of her studio in the North West area of Copenhagen.
Do you have an artistic signature?
“I'd say that I overall play with 3 significant terms in my practise: large scale, abstraction and femininity. I work large scale because it resonates more with me than working small. I love the way a large piece of art can empower me - physically and emotionally. I have always loved abstract art. I still have periods where I explore more figurative and recognisable elements, but I find more freedom and joy in abstraction, and I define myself and as an abstract painter.
I am interested in the term femininity and how I can feminize some of the ideas behind the male-dominated art genres, that I relate to such as ABEX, Minimalism and Colourfield painting. Another thing to mention, is that I rarely cover a painting completely. I usually leave empty space in the surface. This to establish a tension between the raw paper and the paint, and because I think its more poetic.”
Johanne Lykke on choosing her colour palette
“I get obsessed with certain colours and colour combinations, but my obsessions change constantly. Right now, I love combining pink, red and yellow or orange. I am very intuitive in my painting process, both when actually painting and when choosing colours. I have a wide range of colours available in the studio. Before starting a painting I will group some together and try out how they look and respond to each other.”
“I'd say my favourite medium is spray paint at the moment, as I love the range of colours it comes in, as well as its texture and lightfastness.”
Any thoughts on black?
“Most of my wardrobe consists of black clothes. I love to wear black.”
Johanne Lykke on big scale art pieces
“I like how large scale and monumental art works create a bodily connection to the viewer. I experience large scale paintings as if it was a landscape surrounding me. The sublime and overwhelmingly beauty in both art and nature is so closely connected to me.”
What are you inspired by right now?
“Right now I am inspired by two female artists; Betty Woodman and Polly Apfelbaum. I recently discovered the ceramic work of Woodmann who passed away this year and I love her painterly glazings and vivid colors. Apfelbaum's large scale installations are also quite aesthetically intriguing to me.”
The most interesting texture/object you’ve drawn inspiration from?
“Art history perhaps? I constantly study all the American female abstract painters from the 50's and up and I get inspired and moved by these women's work.”
If you are interested in Lykkes work, you can visit her studio in Copenhagen to see the beautiful pieces IRL. If you want to learn more about her work and follow her creative journey, follow her on Instagram @jo_lykke
Also, she is currently working on releasing her new podcast, STATEMENTS which celebrates the work of female painters and pushes for gender equality in the art world. The podcast launches later this fall and I’m super excited!