Interview with Jana & JS for “No Broken Promises”

We’re excited to be showing husband and wife duo Jana & JS in the Thinkspace Project room for “No Broken Promises” opening Saturday, February 2nd. The exhibition will show new stencil and acrylic spray paint works by the French/Austrian pair who have been collaborating since 2007. The two have developed a stylized stenciling practice, often using site-specificity and portrait-based interventions into a city’s architecture to produce unexpected encounters.

In anticipation of “No Broken Promises” our interview with Jana & Js discusses the inspiration behind the exhibition, their feelings towards their creative process, and what they do after completing a body of work.

SH: You’ve shared with us before how you began to work together, but for those that are not familiar with your work as a duo, can you give us three words that describe the evolution of your artistic partnership and each other’s respective zodiac sign? 
J&J: More personal, More sensitive, More introspective 
Jana is Taurus / Js is Virgo

SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition that really challenged you both? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece.
J&J: We can’t really think of a piece that was more challenging to create than the others. But we can say that we are very happy with the works “All I want to see is that you’re ok” and “Waiting”. 
We have been introducing some new elements lately, and we really like how these precise pieces came out! 

SH: What inspired this latest body of work?
J&J: “Memories” is 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 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 works. We love to think about all the history they have and use the mark of the time passing in our work.   

SH: How do you capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself 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: 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 (and especially because we can do that together) is amazing. 
And being able to perpetually share ideas and built 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: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?
J&J: We believe that artists are providing society with emotions, reflexions that lead to make the world a better place.  

SH: What is the best advice you’ve received as an artist? The best advice you’ve received in general? 
J&J: The best advice we’ve received as an artist is “Be true to yourself, express the things that makes sense to you” and we guess that is also the best advice we received in general. 

SH: Favorite way to celebrate the completion of a project/body of work?
J&J: Spend time with the kids, and forget about the painting for a little while. 

Join us for the opening of “No Broken Promises” this Saturday,
February 2nd from 6 – 9 pm. 


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.