In Julius Göthlin (b. 1984) recent paintings, glowing colour hues and sprayed gradient backgrounds manage to generate a great contrast, while conveying intellectual concepts. Göthlin’s art process is challenging, but results in paintings that are both introspective and sublime. All his work is rendered in softly airbrushed tones reflecting the Stockholm-based artist’s commitment to explore his contemplative personal line of thoughts that emerge from the repetitive movement of weaving. His colour palette is currently dominated by more dusky browns, terra-coloured tones that contrast with various shades of blue, and deeply bright sky blues along with softer hues.
Words: Yannis Kostaras
Subtly and comfortably executed wavelengths of paint prevail over his surfaces. The elegant colour selection of these paintings becomes variegated, adjusting with the conditions of light, setting up a creative tension between a minimal reflection and the powerful fragmented outlook. Highlighting both minimal, as well as abstract approaches, Göthlin’s imagery appears to carry a vibrant tonality, which is capable to allure the eye, as if staring at the skyline at different times of day. The horizontal set of sprayed lines construct a common feature in the artist’s body of work; he seems to create repetitively parallel alignments rendering a cohesive attribute to the painting result.
Repetitive patterns point out the artist’s ability to maintain endless and flawless images; remarkably achieved, as being isometrically balanced on the surface, but not always presented to the same chromatic display. On the one hand, those painting sequences successfully investigate the atmosphere of repetition seen as a motif of borderline. On the other hand, these painting results also suggest interpretations of space. The chromatic configuration involves many meticulously elaborate and detailed parts in labour, outline and planning. The process of spray-painting might suggest a more liberating or spontaneous technique; however the results incorporate a maturity in coping with colour and boundaries through a more sophisticated and measured significance.
His work delivers both a visual gravity and an equally gradual presentation of forms, which slowly progresses while exploring the artist’s abstract work. Göthlin states that “within his practice, he investigates the possibilities of creating a two-dimensional place that is constantly in motion”. The artist underlines the power of “moving” in his compositions questioning notions of time and space. Göthlin is an emerging artist who seems highly engaged with his art medium, composing work of confident and mesmerising beauty, while also emphasising the intellectual and non-material quests that characterise our contemporary age.
Julius Göthlin (b. 1984) lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2012, he earned his MFA in Fine Arts from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and recently gained a two-year working grant from the Swedish Art Grants Committee. His work has been presented nationally in Sweden and internationally in countries such as Italy and Denmark.
Art Verge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Julius Göthlin: Already as a child I was very fascinated by simple ways of creating movement through kitschy objects like 3D images, lava lamps and snow globes. These things had the ability to create a moving world, less simple than an animated movie but more complex and random, where I as a viewer got more freedom to dream and fantasize because of the undefined form.
Within my practice, I investigate the possibilities of creating a two-dimensional place that is constantly in motion – a presence – that has more in common with sound, air and light rather than physical objects and creates a feeling of the presence that cannot fully be captured within the image.
I have always worked in cycles where I like to stay in one idea for a long time but also then try to move forward before you get too comfortable. I used to have a very strict way of working where I always built up a grid for every step in the process of a painting from start to finish. A few years ago the need to break that structure had grown so strong I started working in the complete opposite way, leaving most of the process to chance and allowing the materials I worked with to take the pieces in unexpected directions instead of trying to force them to “behave” the way I wanted. Over the last while I have been back to a stricter way of working, but this time trying to find a bridge between these two methods and work around the idea of trying to combine them.
AV: How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?
JG: Moving fragmented scenarios.
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
JG: In my work there is an obvious reference to repetitive sound and aside from my art practice I run a small-scale record label and have always been collecting records, djing and making music. One of my main sources of inspiration comes from 80’s experimental electronic music that has a very distinctive, yet undefined sound. Repetitive ‐ more or less resolved, abstract elements are put together and when strategically arranged, create a flow that guides the listener through an experience without ever clearly presenting a defined destination which is a quality I have been hugely inspired by in my art.
For example, my close friend and artist PLO Man, has an amazing way of creating worlds with sound that inspires me a lot. If speaking of visual artists, I get a lot of inspiration and energy from the works of the Swedish art duo Beck & Jung who did a lot of really amazing things during the 70´s. I’ve also always been very inspired by the Italian artists from the 60’s kinetic art movement. The way they created movement and tension is exceptionally strong and has a mysterious aura surrounding the work that I find really special.
AV: Creating a new painting can be a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
JG: It sure does affect my social life a lot even though I try really hard not to become so caught up that I miss out completely on friends and family. I really do like the strange feeling where you have been in the studio a lot (too long) and start paying attention to details in your surroundings that remind you of the painting you are working on, where it’s almost like the world has become part of your painting in a very weird way.
AV: How do you know when a painting is finished?
JG: I generally do something in between trusting my gut and stick to the plan. In my process, I don’t and can´t usually change things within the painting and have more of a “one chance” type of method where I don’t really adjust things after they are there. Generally, I get the feeling a painting is finished quite naturally. Sometimes that feeling never comes up, but to me then it is usually a proof that the painting wasn’t really successful from the very start.
AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
JG: To find a proper studio with a good location in Stockholm that is not insanely pricey is very hard. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to come across a possibility to rent this amazing spacious studio that has been changing my whole process completely.
The feeling of walking into a place where you feel completely ”free” and have every possibility to create whatever you want naturally do have a huge impact on your vibe and creative energy.
AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
JG: I somehow hope people get a similar feeling as when listening to an instrumental version of a song. Sort of a base structure to fill with your own structure.
AV: What does your mum think about your art?
JG: Like most mums I think she generally believe that most things I do are good and serve a purpose, even though I notice she usually have a hard time adjusting when I’m on to a new path.
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
JG: Right now, I really try hard to be a morning person to at least be able to see a little bit of daylight, since it is very dark in Sweden for most of the day during this time of the year. But generally, I tend to be more productive during nighttime.
AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?
JG: I’m afraid its half empty.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
JG: I just had a new solo show at Belenius gallery here in Stockholm and right now I’m back in the studio getting back in the groove working on various music and art projects coming up in the beginning of the next year.
© All images courtesy of Emanuel Batali and Belenius Gallery