17 x 14 Inches
Acrylic paint on repurposed book, framed
The Same Old Problems by Johan Deckmann
Johan Deckmann is a Copenhagen-based artist, practicing psychotherapist and author, whose works examine the complications of life through witty one-liners painted on the covers of fictional “self-help” books. These book titles, though often filled with scathing satire and humour, tackle life’s biggest questions, fears, and absurdities.
Recognizing the power of language in both therapy and art, Deckmann successfully forms simple phrases that compress information, feelings or fantasies into an essence, and a truth that has an effect that is very similar to therapy. “The right words can be like good medicine,” Deckmann shares. While most of his book titles skirt between hilarious and poignant, underscored by their faded color and worn texture of 1970s era self-help guides, the readers are taken through a journey of self-reflection and soul-searching as they scroll through the entirety of Deckmann’s work. The artist explains that his psychological practice has great influence on his art, not only by serving as a tremendous inspiration for the content of his works, but also as a constant reminder of personal responsibility. “I meet many people who suffer from a circumstance that they themselves have created but they choose not to take action,” he explains. “I think it’s tragicomic that underneath our frustration and self-slavery lies this beautiful opportunity.”
One of the most powerful aspects of Deckmann’s works is that every reader can relate to at least one them on a highly personal level, regardless of what cultural background, gender or age group. Titles such as “How to disappoint and just keep disappointing – Disappointment made easy” can resonate with anyone, but instead of remaining sinister, the work is made humorous by using the same language that you might find on a cook book or instruction kit. “How to burn out instead of fade away” might be most fitting for people that live in big cities under pressure.
Strongly influenced by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Louise Bourgeois, Deckmann says “I want my works to be like mirrors. When you look at them you might not like what you see but like a mirror, you now get the awareness and the chance to change something. People often respond That’s me! That’s what I do to myself! Why do I do that?” He continues “I think that making art helps me to be more defined as a psychotherapist. In one way, I distill my thoughts in my works and it makes me very sure of my view on things.”