Johanne Lykke Poulsen. Painting with water

Today I want to introduce you the work of Johanne Lykke Poulsen (1989). This young Danish visual artist works with large abstract paintings, though her artistic practice also involves text and vocal based sound art. She finds in natural elements like water a constant source of inspiration. And it is through a soak stain technique that we feel the halo of her works. A glow that has to do with the concept of the sublime related to nature. The wild and uncontrolled nature is here expressed through explosions of colour, infusing a sense of greatness to the work in an affective and sensible way that wraps you with wonder and admiration.

Johanne Lykke Poulsen is a graduate from The Jutland Art Academy in Aarhus, Denmark (2015) and has been an artist-in-residence at The Danish Institute in Athens (2016), Taekker Air Berlin (2016) and Residency Unlimited in New York (2014). After living and working in Berlin, she recently relocated to Copenhagen.

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No Storms (2016)

What does the relation between water and color mean to you?

In my work, color and water are two significant components that compliment each other. They are necessary and important. One couldn’t be without the other.

What kind of feeling or emotion do you wish to communicate with your art works?

I aim to let my art communicate an open-ended aesthetic sensibility rather than specific emotions. I think of communicating emotion in an abstract way. American painter, Agnes Martin said that sensibility is the same as beauty. I like the idea of communicating sensibility.

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Wild Greens (2017)
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Poem by a Tree (2016)

Where do you find beauty?

I grew up in a country with a coastline so long that no matter where you stand you’re less than 20 miles away from the sea. Water is a fundamental element in my work. I find beauty in water both physically and emotionally. Water is complex, sublime.

Who or what inspires you?

Agnes Martin and Helen Frankenthaler are true inspirational sources to my work. These two strong women’s work motivates me to paint everyday. I remember when I first came to New York in 2014, I saw Roni Horn’s installation of glass sculptures filled with water at House & Wirth. Her work with water made a huge impression on me. As I also work with text, I find inspiration from Cy Twombly, Gertrude Stein and Sylvia Plath.

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Two Rose Tall (2016)

Could you describe your artistic process?

I am not sure where a painting exactly begins to me. I believe in intuition. Its a religion to me. It’s a fine balance, of course, and naturally our intuition is affected by so many things – culture, experience, trends, other artists, the internet and so on. Though, I would say my process involves quite a lot of intuition. My paintings can start as a note on a small piece of paper, as an impression that another painting made on me or it can start with me simply pouring paint onto the canvas. As I paint, I apply thinned layers of acrylic paint onto the canvas. I always work on the floor. With the high ratio of water I work with, it is necessary to paint horizontally. The repetition of using water in my work has become a ritual in my studio practice.

Future projects for 2017? 


I spent the first week of 2017 moving from Berlin back to Copenhagen. Im excited about being located in my home country again for a while. With that said I love travelling and exploring new cultures as it gives me inspiration and energy to be creative. Right now, I am in Costa Rica exploring a whole new climate and environment. I am hoping the cloud forests and waterfalls will leave their marks on my next paintings. In the spring, I have a one month residency in Portugal. There I will produce field studies of the surrounding landscape and implement this in a new series of large scale paintings.

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White Water Falls (2016)

Learn more about Johanne Lykke Poulsen here.

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