Interview with Jana & Js for “Fragments of Memories” at Fullerton Museum Center

This Summer, Thinkspace Projects, is proud to present Jana & Js at the Fullerton Museum Center in Fullerton, CA. Their latest body of work Fragments of Memories will be on view from June 30th to August 19th.  Below is our interview with Jana & Js to discuss the inspiration behind Fragments of Memories, their creative process, and the artistic catalyst that lead them to where they are today.

Fragments of Memories opens at the Fullerton Museum Center June 30th.

SH: Tell us about your new works on view at the Fullerton Museum Center this summer. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

J&J: “Memories” are the main inspiration for this body of work. All the images that we painted were inspired by our memories, or feelings induced by past moments. The objects we painted on are carrying history and memories from others. All the pieces we’re presenting for this show are painted on found objects, assemblages of wood fragments that we found in abandoned houses or factories.
These objects had a previous life, all the objects have accompanied people in their everyday life or in their work. We love to think about all the history they possess and use it to mark time passing in our work.

SH: Where do you source inspiration? How do you capture those ideas for pieces; do either of you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just notes to yourselves in your phone?

J&J: We don’t really have a sketchbook, for that kind of work. It’s more of a notebook where we are writing ideas, phrases, lyrics…Our camera would be our sketchbook. The basis of our stencil work is our photographic work. We take a lot of pictures…and some of them will be transferred into paintings.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions? Is there a clear break in who does what between you?

J&J: At the very beginning there was a real separation, Jana used to paint all the portraits, and JS the architectural part of our works. After a while, we completely merged our work. We take the pictures together, cut the stencils together and we are even painting on the canvases at the same time.

A couple of years ago when our first kid was born we started to do some parts of our process more separately. But we still do the basis together: photos, stencils, deciding the background and the composition of a painting.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?

J&J: We never get bored of what we are doing. We love our “job” and living something special like that together is the most exciting thing for us.
Being able to be creative, travel, discover new environments, meet new people together is amazing. And being able to perpetually share ideas and build our work is thrilling.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?

J&J: Right now, what frustrates us the most is not having enough time to experiment more.

SH: How do you approach developing work for an exhibition? Do you immediately jump into work on it, or do you find yourselves procrastinating some?

J&J: When we start to work on a show we usually won’t go to the studio and start to paint immediately. We have a pretty long period of reflexion, exchanging ideas, looking for images and materials… it will take a while before all the elements that will compose a new body of work will find their right place. And when it does, we will start to build the pieces and paint them.

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your lives? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on either of you that has lead you to where you both are now.

J&J: What lead us to where we are now is definitely the fact that we met 15 years ago in Madrid, Spain. Before that, we weren’t planning on becoming artists, and since then everything seems so natural that we couldn’t imagine doing something else. If we would name someone, the French artist, Artiste-Ouvrier definitely had a determinant role in the development of our work: both on technical and ethical levels.

The Timeline of Jana & Js:

1981 JS – birth in Paris, France
1985 Jana – birth in Salzburg Austria
2003 Jana and Js meet each other in Madrid, Spain and
live there for a year
2004 Js starts to work with stencils
2005 back in Paris, Js develops the stencil technics with Artiste-Ouvrier
2005 foundation of the collective WCA (Working Class Artists)
2005 Jana studies Art History at the University of Vienna, Austria
2006 Jana comes to live in Paris, Jana & Js are starting
to work together as a duo
2007 first show with the name as Jana & Js
2008 Jana & Js move to Salzburg, Austria.
Jana studies Multimedia Art at the University of
applied sciences in Salzburg 2012 birth of their son
2014 birth of their daughter

Austrian and French street artists Jana & Js are painting together since 2006. The pair creates polychromed stencil murals widely ranging in size. Based primarily on their personal photographic work, the stencils seem to respond and interact with their surroundings. Mostly inspired by the city and people living in, their paintings merge urban landscape or architecture details with portrait, questioning the place of human being in the modern cities. Inspired by the place where they put their work they now focus on nostalgia, melancholy.

After spending some time in Madrid, Spain where they met and living a couple of years in Paris, Jana & Js are now settled in Salzburg – Austria. To display their works, they choose old materials that are showcasing the passing of physical time and history. They have made their art in unexpected spaces by printing stencils on public infrastructure or on the semi-finished/dismantled products/spaces such as the train tracks, old buildings, poles, pieces of concrete, old trucks, wood piles…

They are deeply inspired by every place they travel to, deciphering the social meaning in unforeseen aspects of urban landscapes. But what is the most striking part in their works are not panoramas themselves, but people with their existential uneasiness. They have the unique way of relating people, their emotions, desires, and concerns with their environment. Their urban interventions merge their subjects with the environment, provoking thoughts and engaging the viewers in an artistic dialogue.


“DUO” Interview with Jana and JS

Jana and JS Banner

A duo working out of Austria, Jana is from Salzburg, and JS is from France, near Paris. A couple, their work is stencil based, incredibly precise, and inspired primarily by their personal photographic work. Interested in combining the figurative with architecture, their outdoor pieces are primarily found in major European urban centers and tend to vary in scale. They work with a variety of media to create detailed stencils, using acrylic, ink, pencil, and spray paint on architecture, wood, glass, metal, canvas or paper. Creating these interventions in a variety of contexts, they have been known to use everything from trees in forests and railway tracks – to all manner of found materials. Often portraying people in pairs, their work is about intimacy and human connection, capturing a sense of vulnerability in the passing of time.

Thinkspace Gallery in collaboration with Berlin’s Urban Nation, is pleased to present DUO, a group exhibition featuring works by internationally acclaimed contemporary art duos. The following is an exclusive Sour Harvest interview with Jana and JS. 

How did you two first meet and decide to collaborate together?
We met in Madrid in 2004. We were both spending a year in Spain and at some point we happened to live in the same apartment. Around this time, Js discovered the stencil technics by seeing many in the street of Madrid. When Js later came back to Paris he discovered more about the street art and stencil scene in Paris. He met Artiste-ouvrier who shared with him his unique technic and founded the WCA collective. Back in Austria, Jana also started to cut some stencils on her own.

We started to work together when Jana came to live in Paris. That is when we started to develop our actual work, inspired by our photographs, interest in urban architecture and portrait.

JS in Studio

What inspires you or where do you find inspiration?
We find our inspiration in our everyday life, our personal story, our travels, places we are exploring,…

Jana and JS street art

How do you two work through conflict when creating a cohesive vision?
Sometimes we don’t have the same idea or the same vision, but we are trying to slowly build something together. Conflict is often a part of our creative process. We think of it as something positive and the best way for us to work through it is to trust each other.

Jana WIP studio

What is your process for collaborating, does one artist do XYZ and the other ABC? Please elaborate.
At the beginning, we did not have any exact division in our collaboration; from deciding what image to use till the realisation of the painting – we were always working together. Things changed after having two children together and we started to divide our working process a little bit more. Nevertheless, there are some parts of the process we want to do together, for instance looking for new ideas, taking photos and cutting the stencils. The execution of the artwork happens in more separate ways, Jana is more into painting with brushes and acrylics, js with spray cans.

jana and js field work

Do you remember your first wall? Or have a good story to share of when you were doing a mural together…
Yes, we remember. Our first wall was in Paris. It showed the portrait of a photographer with an old industrial building from Paris we were fascinated by. It was in the street where we were living at that time. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but we were really excited about painting something together!

Jana and JS muralist

If you could live in a movie for a day, what would it be? Would you be yourself or a specific character?
We’ve recently watched “Only Lovers Left Alive” by Jim Jarmusch and we really loved it. We loved the ambiance, the decor, the symbolism.

Anything else you would like to share? Next big project?
We are very excited to show more of our work in the US, in Los Angeles, with Thinkspace Gallery and in April in Chicago at Vertical Gallery. We are also so happy to have our first solo show in London coming up this year!!

Jana and JS wall art

View new works from the duo Jana and JS during our opening reception for “DUO” Saturday, February 27th from 6 -9 pm. For additional information on the exhibit please visit Thinkspace Gallery’s website; if you’d like to receive a preview of the show make sure to sign up for the Thinkspace Gallery mailing list.