What was the inspiration for your latest series? Le Paradis Perdu or Paradise Lost is a 12-chapter book, with 21 engravings, that I bought at auction, which became the foundation of my new originals and print series. The poem concerns Adam and Eve’s temptation by the fallen angel Satan, and their disobedience, which led to them being expelled from Paradise. This story is translated in a set of 12 beautiful prints, as well as 12 original artworks. As a well-established symbol for both love and life, the human heart gave new life and meaning to the original engravings by being juxtaposed on top. The series also depicts the heart as a meaningful representation of first love between humans but also mortality after the loss of Eden.
What is most important with regard to your work? I would say research. Art is about expanding the mind and exploring things and presenting it to the viewer as you want it. It's about capturing a memory or moment (for) whoever is looking at a piece and nudging their emotions; taking them back to that place or time. At the same time, you comment on today’s society. I’m not one to push my political views down other people’s throats… but you can create commentary in an art piece without it being too obvious.
Tell us about your daily routines and rituals. I don’t set an alarm. I’m a morning person anyway, so will wake up between 8am and 10am naturally. I’ll have a hearty breakfast and walk the dog, thereafter go into my studio, adjacent to my flat, and start work. I do multiple things at any one time, jumping from one to the other. I tend to go to the printers every second day to pick up and sign things. My social life has mostly become gallery openings, however, I obviously go to museums and exhibitions in London or wherever I am.
Can you let us in on future projects? Apart from The Proof Project and the Lonely Hearts Club in Johannesburg, I’ve been working on a few big projects in the US, which will be opening in the coming weeks. One is the entrance gallery to an apartment block in Manhattan, called 19 Dutch, where I’ve made a 7m high artwork, the elevator cabs and the building’s coat of arms. I’ve also just delivered six pieces to Las Vegas’s The Palms Hotel and Casino, which will be displayed throughout the suites and hotel. After the summer holidays, usually a time for research and travel, I’ll clear the slate and gather all the research done in the past month, and see what new ideas develop.
You can view Gjoen's works at The Lonely Hearts Club until September 2.