Interview: Johana Stranner
Luca Curci talks with Johana Stranner during the 17th Edition of VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Johana Mariel is an American painter currently residing in Austria. Abstract art, portraits, acrylic paint, oil pastels and watercolours all serve as sources of inspiration for Johana. As a newcomer to the art world, she embraces the freedom to experiment and explore, unbound by the constraints of a single artistic style. Johana’s pivotal realization of the impact of color perception has inspired her to create art sequences that evoke emotions and captivate a diverse audience.
Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
Johana Stranner – I have always been interested in art, drawing, painting and creativity. After basic lessons as a teenager, I took a 20-year break to become a yoga teacher, have a baby, start a business and life went on. While recovering from the burnout, I found myself at an art store and bought two canvases, 10 tubes of acrylic paint and some paintbrushes. They sat in a bag in the corner of my house for over 6months until one night, while very emotional and overwhelmed, I reached for that bag and started to paint. This night felt like a portal opened and time stopped. Since then I haven’t stopped painting.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
JS – I typically do not think while I paint. I become hyper-focused and time just passes. Sometimes there are feelings and thoughts of doubt in the beginning though, such as that I am not good enough, or “How do I dare paint! Who am I to call myself an artist?”. In my experience now, I notice that if I keep going and let the thoughts come and go, the process unfolds and the final product becomes something that I am happy with. And if not, I am also learning to accept it and paint over it! I paint at night. When all have gone to bed and all is quiet. I turn on music, switch on a few extra lamps pick my colours and brushes and sit down. I stare at the blank canvas or the one that I am currently working on for a few seconds and take a few breaths. From then on, it just flows! (not always, by the way! Some nights I have certain blockages or lack inspiration and I notice I need a break. In this case, I just leave it.)
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
JS – Sometimes I get inspired by a place. I see a painting in my mind that would fit there on the wall. Other times I am inspired by other artists and want to try a certain style, and just do it! Often I am inspired by colours in nature; sunsets and sunrises, the ocean, trees, wind, water… It is mostly an instinctive process. I tend to get very inspired by one style or colour pallet, and then I create many pieces in this fashion…until the next one comes.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
JS – Art is an outlet for me to process emotions, to focus, and to get out of my head. When I am feeling a lot, I tend to use my hands to paint. A direct connection from my mind, my emotions, my hands, the paint…and then the canvas.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
JS – Good question. Sometimes I need weeks to decide that a work is completed in the first place, and sometimes I just feel it. I know that it is done. Most paintings where I wasn’t sure if they were complete, once I have come back to them, are often actually done…but needed time to “settle.” I often feel proud and relieved, and I want to share them (aka, get them out of the studio and on someone’s wall!) It is always so magical to see the process of what I was feeling or imagining in my mind and how different the final product becomes.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
JS – I am happy to have been part of two Exhibitions: one in Rome (ROME INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2023 – 8th edition) and Venice (VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR – 17TH EDITION). The name of the Art Fair in Rome was “MIXING IDENTITIES. ”I loved this title, as I have many different identities in my life, and am often adding to and working on myself. I believe my past as a yoga teacher, living full-time in a Yoga Ashram, my role as a mother, and my work as a business owner and entrepreneur now contribute to how I create art. I have currently added “artist” to my identity…”
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
JS – The artwork I showed was all abstract and very vibrant with color. Three of the pieces taught very important lessons about art and its process. For example, one of the mixed media artworks was the first I ever varnished and it started to smear. I was devastated and panicked and thought I had ruined it. I was very hard on myself. After consulting with a good friend and experienced artist, she encouraged me to step away from the canvas and come back to it the next day. After so doing, she said to try and see it as an opportunity to improve the piece, to see it from another perspective. I did this, and it became even better! AND, I learned how to properly varnish (or not varnish!) mixed media canvases. So it was part of great learning and mixing what we feel a failure is into an unexpected success.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
JS – Absolutely! All the staff at ItsLiquid were very competent, friendly and helpful. They offer several services for upcoming artists, in addition to supporting us in the gallery. For example, I found it difficult at first to put a price on my pieces. I had one artwork evaluated by them, and after their professional review and evaluation, I was much more confident to price my works in the future.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
JS – I was unfortunately not able to meet you in person, but I feel the group is very professional and I am honoured to have been part of it all!