Johanne Lykke (b.1989) is a Danish visual artist who lives and works in Copenhagen. She graduated from The Jutland Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark in 2015 and has subsequently lived in Berlin and New York.
The intuitive process, the physical flow of working with watercolors and aesthetic appeal are key drivers in Lykke’s practice. The energy and delight of the process are not only a fulfilment to Lykke, but qualities she strives at conveying. She believes that her inspiration and her own enjoyment flows through her work making it pieces of art as well as gestures of sharing. Watercolor and paper are a long time appreciated media to Lykke. The findings of her grandmother’s watercolor landscapes sparked an interest in the watercolor technique and the Funen artist colony. Lykke found a sensibility and delicacy which has boosted her own quest to pursue the beauty of watercolor as well as an interest in testing the boundaries of the media.
Watercolors are light and easy to apply, they dry quickly and you have to give in to the fluent activity as corrections and multiple layers are not possible. The organic paper, the liquid consistency and the pigments suspended in a water-based solution offer a soft and transparent expression. Lykke however expands the notion of the watercolor when working with the delicate paper in large scale formats. She strives at challenging the conception of the watercolor being a secondary media or simply considered a sketch. The oversized pieces require gesticulated motion and swung with the brushes and scissors when Lykke furthermore cuts out her motifs turning the creations into a vivid performative act as well.
The flower, flower leaves and flower components are a recurring subject matter in Lykke’s work. Flower power is an exhausted cliché to some and to others a tireless symbol of splendor and the wonders of nature. Lykke enrolls in a long tradition of depicting flowers across Western and Eastern art from antiquity to contemporary art. The duality of the fragile and the vigorous embossed the Nature Morte painting in the 17th century and the floral compositions flourished with lavish bouquets as well as overblown flowers and crumbled foods to remind us of our mortality and our excessive abundance.
Red, pink and orange, purple and blue are some of Lykke’s favorite color combinations. Her roses are compact and color intense, but also open and gentle. Sensation, beauty and to allow oneself to be infatuated by a pretty rose is to Lykke primal and not banal. Flowers are the epitome of life – and to Lykke the gesture of painting them is somehow existential. She hopes that the sensation and indulgence she feels herself in her creations convey a sense of healing, joy and belonging nurturing the presence of life.
Natalia Gutman, 2021