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Johanna Maria Elisabeth Bergh    Contributor -- Sweden


Artist Johanna Maria Elisabeth Bergh lives in Stockholm, and has a son named Felix. She has coordinated artists and exhibits at Aguéli Café & Gallery, and will now be focusing exclusively on her art. Her next exhibition will be April 24th to May 5th at Galleri Korn in Stockholm.

Karen Bowles interviews Johanna Maria Elisabeth Bergh for Luciole Press ~

LP: I came across your art by chance, and was struck by its uniqueness. It simultaneously seems two-dimensional yet layered deeply into some other parallel world. There are many things to pick apart and ponder, and a few viewings of your paintings are not enough to try to figure out what all is being revealed. They are a visual exploratory feast. In a background sense, where are you from? Did you study art formally, or did you teach yourself?

JB: I was born in a middle class suburb of Stockholm. My parents divorced early. When I grew up, I lived mainly with my mum and her husband, and 7 step- and half siblings.

I took a break from school when I was 17 and moved to Prague.

After a few years of traveling between Stockholm and Prague, I moved back home when I was 21 and finished school. Studied Russian and Czech at the University. Got pregnant. Had my son. Went one year at preparing Art School, then felt quite tired of studying and decided to open a small café. That was fun but too much work for a single mum, so I closed my café and started working at a place which is both a café and a gallery. And that's about where I am at now. Have just resigned from the "handling the café" part of the job. Will focus on contacts with artists, the exhibitions and, most importantly working with and developing my own art...

LP: Is there a particular artist that inspired the evolution of your work?

JB: There are so much, and so many that influence my work so its very hard to mention a specific artist who has inspired me, but if I have to mention one I'd say Marc Chagall.

LP: What materials do you use?

JB: Mainly acrylic. I like that it dries quickly. Paint and go!



LP: Did you always paint in such a labyrinthine way? There seems to be a maze of clues to follow in a story, almost a fairytale unfolding – but an older, darker one, before Disney told everyone that most fairytales were supposed to be light and perky and all would end well.

JB: I have tried to paint in other ways, but keep coming back to the ideas, symbols, colours and figures that I guess is my imagery...

LP: Furthering that vein, there is an underlying connection between the paintings; many share a similar landscape, for example. Are you basing that on a particular region, or do you draw this from your imagination? Does traveling influence your work?

JB: My pictures often have inspiration from an actual place, or features of an actual person, but it doesn't always have to be any connection. Or have anything with the other to do. The collage of pictures are made in my head. Some pictures are memories of things, places or people I've actually seen or met. Some are imaginary, and others inspired by anything that happen to come my way, a book, film, magazine. Traveling naturally influences my work, but so does everyday life as well. A ride on the subway can lead to more than a trip in a faraway desert...

LP: Is there a message you wish to convey to the viewer, or are you hoping that they will draw their own conclusions? Has anyone volunteered an idea that made you wonder if they were looking at the same painting as you were?

JB: A few years ago, I could get annoyed if people interpreted a picture different from what I had had in mind. Now I feel its a good thing, and I do like to listen to what my art makes people think about... Its like in life, people comprehend things differently. It can be good and lead to interesting discussions...



          Broken people trying to (make) love

LP: Many of the people in your paintings are bruised or dealing with the theme of being damaged. Where does this come from? Do you feel like your work is primarily dealing with the damaging aspects of life and survival matter-of-factly, or are you suggesting hope for healing (such as with “Broken people trying to (make) love,” seen above)?

JB: The bruised and the bandaged figures started appearing during a time where I myself got hurt often. Both physically and in relationships. And most people have been through painful things and are scarred... (in different ways).

Hope is something I'd always want to suggest, and that's where the humour comes in...

LP: The subjects in such paintings as “Café Nude” and “At Restaurant Judit & Bertil” (below) are hyper-aware of each other, to the point of suspicion. Is this a comment upon society?

JB: I'd say its more a comment on gossip. On how people communicate with each other, how they speak and behave to and towards each other...

At Restaurant Judit & Bertil

Café Nude

LP: How would you describe your art, and yourself as an artist?

JB: Two words I often come across, or rather come back to is humour and patience.

I struggle with melancholy and anxiety almost every day, and without humour I wouldn't cope. Also relations are important and I hope that is obvious in my pictures...

LP: What gallery do you work at? Where can people find your art? Website info, future show info? 

JB: I work at Aguéli Café & Gallery (on Facebook here). I just resigned though, will from now on focus on my art. My next exhibition will be 24-29th of April at Galleri Korn (in Stockholm) (
                   Editor's note: this show has been extended to May 5th.

My own website is still very poor, so I'd rather direct people to Artslant (here) or Saatchi gallery online (here).

My art works can be found in over a hundred homes, mainly in Sweden, but also in Japan, Australia, Syria, Denmark and Hungary.



all art copyrights belong to Johanna Maria Elisabeth Bergh
all article copyrights belong to Luciole Press and Johanna Maria Elisabeth Bergh

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