What do you remember the most from your childhood?
The stranger inside me
In the valley
you stood there
clenching your fists
Sitting, thinking about a sandwich.
Is it too late?
The stream is below
zigzagging through your soul
Not far from home.
There are so many things; having an out of body experience when I was struck by a car at the age of 13, the many visits of my father’s eccentric friends, our weekly visit to Brussels which I loved. The travels with my dad to restoration jobs he had in the summer. One of the commissions was in a monastery, I was 8 and remember the silence, serenity and simplicity of the place, this gave me a huge notion of peace and composition. The visits to the studio of an artist, friend of the family and all the others studios, The smell of oil paint, the smell of flowers in the spring. The fireplace in my dad’s studio in winter. My friends, with whom I’m still in contact, all magic.
“Johan Lowie usually has a number of paintings in process at the same time”. This is a skill that I am finding difficult in my own humble practice. Is there any special reason why you work this way? You are using various techniques, so it is not only about oil paints.
A painting is like a novel, a drawing a poem.
I used to have this exercise where I would spend my day making completely different work, not only different styles and techniques but also calculated or intuitive. I wanted to see how far my creativity would take me. In a way, it’s still going on but in a more broader scale. Art has never been a journey for me, always a discovery, always seeing what’s in there, in the little gray cells.
In my oil paintings I work with glazes a lot, this alone asks for patience and a waiting period between the layers of paint, because of this I have a couple of paintings I work on in the beginning stages. When I finish a painting I use all my focus on that one work till it’s finished.
I have a work schedule where I start and sometimes end my day with line exercises, these set the tone for the day. Although I love to have set days I also love to break the habit. Since I focus all day on my work, I spend the time sketching out new ideas or work out other projects. In a way, I find it magical not knowing what the day will bring artistically.
I still draw the figure from a model and there I do the same thing from pure copying the form to feel what’s inside the model to abstracting the figure. Eventually, everything is going to melt together.
Your art is a mix of figurative and abstract works. Is there any connection between these currents in your work?
“When working from intuition can we discover a piece of the puzzle of our existence ?”
The first and simple connection is that they are all made by me. But I’m going towards a simple goal: to portray an emotion in an abstract basic setting. Simplicity makes you think, also it can’t hide mediocrity. Mondriaan did it for composition, that’s where I want to end up. I’m afraid sometimes getting there because what’s after that? So, maybe confronted with the fear of an end? Both help each other going forward. One is calculated, one intuitive. The discoveries feed each other.
Sometimes I’m confronted with the suggestion that I don’t have a style. I always feel like an outsider when confronted with this question, am I the only one? I have never been interested in a style because it becomes a prison. Then the question is also, is the form or style that ables you to recognize the artist? What about the medium, subject matter? We are so used to see just a small part of the oeuvre of the artist in museums, that we get the idea that’s all they do. This is one of the reasons to study an artist, to see the sketchbooks of artists.