In his first solo show in New York, suitably titled Snake Pit, artist Joakim Ojanen exhibited eight ceramic sculptures and five oil paintings at gallery The Hole. Continuing to dazzle us with an ability to translate his humorous characters from 2D canvas to 3D sculpture, Joakim’s latest work sees a universe of “duck-billed boys, silly hats, sweaty dogs, hairy legs, soccer balls, trees, clocks, clowns, and, of course, lots of snakes.” What more could you ask for?!
“I wanted to use the space [of the exhibition] more, and treat my work almost like an installation”, the Stockholm-based artist tells It’s Nice That. “I’ve had the idea of tiling the floor for a while, and this room was the perfect place to try it out.” Painting a large snake pattern in his characteristically animated style, the snake-filled floor of the exhibition presents the viewer with the exhibition’s first work. With the large painting meandering its way round The Hole’s airy space, Joakim was confronted with the problem of not being able to use plinths, which would be sure to cover up the snakes. As a consequence, the artist was forced to consider new ways of exhibiting his sculptures, eventually, thinking up a way to hang the fragile ceramics from the ceiling.
“It felt pretty weird to have these heavy and very fragile ceramic sculptures standing on swings” says Joakim on the matter. Luckily, all the works made it through the three-week showing at the gallery and the swings definitely add to the playfulness of the artist’s sprightly works.
Since we last wrote about him, Joakim views his work as “more free and maybe more wild.” Ever-funny, this freeness has further developed the sense of character that beholds each and every figure with a cheeky face — which is all of them. “I really like coming up with fucked up shapes that can make me laugh out loud in the studio while I’m working with them”, Joakim says, “If that happens, I know it will be a good piece!”
Described as “a pizza crust topped with excitement”, the wobbly works are an absolute joy to look at. Managing to insert some vividly bold colours into clay, Joakim’s multimedia approach helps him come up with new ideas. On his however, the self-taught artist goes on to say, “but it is also time consuming, sometimes I feel like I need to work twice as much for a show. One painting show and one sculpture show at the same time.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.