Jana&Js are an Austro-German duo, their work can be found on the streets as well as in the finest galleries around the world. Inspired by the city and its architecture they spray urban landscapes, details of architecture and portraits of photographed people with a play of reflections and transparencies. We reached them for a coffee chat, talking about their current activities and upcoming projects.
Hello Jana&Js, first of all, how you doing and what are you working on these days?
We are fine, thanks! Right now we are pretty busy working on our upcoming show and projects.
We’re finishing the last pieces for our next solo show which will open on the 12th of June at the ‘pretty portal gallery’ in Dusseldorf, Germany. We’re also preparing two outdoor projects in France where we have the chance to be part of: “quai 36” where we’ll be painting at Gare du Nord in Paris and the BIAM (Biennale International d’Art Mural) in Lille.
We posted your most recent work for Memorie Urbane in Fondi, and it’s absolutely awesome. Could you tell us something about it, I mean, how did you prepare for such a work?
We were very happy to be invited to memorie urbane festival. it was our first time we’ve been painting in Italy!
The organizers proposed some different walls, however, when they sent us the pictures of the tower we both immediately thought that it would be perfect. We are always looking to paint on something different, we liked the idea of creating a piece that would have a continuity on all three walls yet each wall would work independently. With the veil, we created a link between each wall. This painting is part of a series we started a while ago: people protecting themselves, veiling or revealing something or someone. ..
Much has been written about your “polaroid vintage” style, and I have always found it very charming. Is there something that you’ll change in the near future, or it will always be your trademark?
We think that it has already changed, but in some way it will always be our trademark.
When we started to work together, we painted a lot of photographers and elements related to our passion for photography, old cameras, and polaroids. Photography will always be an essential part of our work and we will continue to paint photographers, currently we are more focused on the relationships between people and how their bodies can express their feelings.
How do you feel social websites and apps such as Tumblr and Instagram are influencing art?
On one hand social media outlets are great tools because they’re an easy and immediate way to show and share our works, without Facebook or Instagram very few people would have seen our pieces we´ve painted in abandoned places or on trunks, on the other hand, we sometimes have the feeling that social media don’t really reflect reality. We never take it too seriously, the question for us is more about how you use it.
In your outdoor production it seems you easily manage large scale murals and small pieces without losing the energy of your message. Is there something you prefer working big or it just depends by the spot?
We really enjoy painting on a bigger scale and we are always very grateful when someone gives us the possibility to paint a bigger wall. At the same time there is something special and unique that makes us love some smaller, more spontaneous projects where there is not the complicated logistics to handle. The size of the wall isn’t really important for us; the spot, the wall, or the medium itself combined with its surrounding is what matters to us. We love to paint on places where no one expects it… not even us sometimes. We believe that working outdoor is about integrating our work into the environment. The relation between what we paint and where we paint it is what makes the artwork complete.
Would you tell me something about working on a duo? I mean, tell me something you would like to change and something you would never accept to lose in collaborating
We love to work together and we wouldn’t change a thing! It is not always easy, it is often difficult to make limits between our personal life our family and our work. Before being a “working team” we are a couple (for over ten years now!) and we have two little kids. So everything is a bit mixed up and that is probably what makes our work so personal. For us, it is an amazing feeling to share everything together.
I recently spoke with several artists, and the thing that struck me most was this sentence repeated by many: “you must have the urge to say something to go out at night in the cold to paint a wall in secret.” What’s your urgency?
We would say that our urge is to create something together.
Talking on a bigger frame, I’m always curious about what artists think about other artists.
Tell me three artists you admire at the moment, who do you think is doing remarkably well?
We definitely love Know Hope’s work. We have seen some works from Hyuro in Gaeta and we really liked them a lot.
And we also like the work of PixelPancho.
What do you feel are some of your best accomplishments within your art so far in your career? I mean, what about a moment when you were working and you thought “I finally did it!”?
We can’t think of any one best accomplishment in particular. We are so grateful we manage to live the life we ‘re living which is really more the sum of many small accomplishments. we feel that being artists is something very challenging and we still have a lot to accomplish! Outside of our “career”, having our two kids is definitely the greatest accomplishment!
Nowadays there’s a giant hype around the street art scene, it seems is possible to insert the graffiti element also in detergents tv ads. Bothers you or do you think is positive?
We would not like to see our work promoting a detergent, that is for sure!
These days in the office turns a trick, tell me what will you do, or what would you like to do, in 5 months, 5 years, 10 years.
That is a question we always found very hard to answer. 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago we would not have thought that today we would be doing what we’re doing, and we’re feeling very lucky. So we’re just hoping that we will go on with the life we’re having right now.
Tell me something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to.
getting married 🙂
What’s in your near future? Do you have shows or projects planned?
As we said before, we will be having a solo show at ‘pretty portal’ in June and before that we will be in France for two different projects.