Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Duck Town, Narnia, are all micro-cosmoses symbolising the world in a primary and absolute way. Artist Johanpeter (Jp) Hol represents his world in closets, shrines and attics full of anthropomorphised animals, animated cardboard scenes, armies of mice, reclaimed and re-glazed china and disquieting drawings. Like a dusty playroom full of abandoned toys, his work creates a slightly grizzly fairy tale.
Hol iconises animals and objects, creating a highly animated, and yet at the same time a metaphysical environment. His imaginary world is full of embalmed animals with Mickey-mouse heads, armies made out of little porcelain half mouse-half man figurines, ships that will never go to sea, bottles with transparent glass Mickey Mouse tops, paper cut outs of human and not so human heads, glowing in an eerie pink, vases & teapots on faux wooden tiny clay tables, cardboard closets filled with reclaimed porcelain, like a jumble sale gone mad, wall installations with fragile looking paper planks on which glass or porcelain vessels balance and glowing fire flies. Transparent almost fluid glass underwater life forms, mirrors made of black porcelain balancing on a tree twig like tombstones. Delightful animations made out of cardboard telling bittersweet stories. All these elements are part of an alphabet of an intimate and personal language.
The artist uses animals -embalmed and created- to represent humanity’s desire to control and manipulate every aspect of our environment. We domesticate and dominate. This is further underlined by the use of Disney hats –literally Disneyfying animals and objects- moulding them into our own image, anthropomorphising them.
At first glance Hol’s work is alluring, seductive, playful and maybe even cheerful with a childlike choice of materials (clay, felt, paper, cardboard) and colours (black and whites, golds and silvers, pinks and blues). But below the surface however, deeper, more profound notions haunt Hol’s work. It reads like an inner portrait that opens up to the outside world, self reflective and intimate, centring upon being an individual in a group. The human paradox of wanting to be different from the rest but at the same time, experiencing a deep longing to be part of a group, to be a social animal. About being trapped in this paradoxical contradiction.
The artist gives shape – with an almost naive innocence - to this fundamental human question. Balancing the tension between the notion of the hyper individual and society, Hol confronts the outside world with intimacy by celebrating it in shrines, putting it on pedestals.
With his charm, wit and beauty, the artist lures us first into taking a closer and more personal look at ourselves. Giving us time to reflect before plunging us deeper. Going beyond the self and progressing into broader issues that retain a humorous, yet spooky and sometimes a more culturally ominous edge. His work is underpinned by loneliness and a constant struggle with the surrounding world; questioning it in a silent but distinct way.
What makes Hol’s body of work even more interesting, is that it often revolves around technology. But instead of the use of high tech materials and techniques, Hol’s work is depicted very simply. Sometimes even with a treacherous DIY touch. From glow in the dark to the use of neon colours shades. Always hidden, never evident, but still, there. Works often are –literally- a series of seemingly impossible balancing acts. All this encapsulates another of Hol’s ideologies, that no matter what feats of technology we strive to achieve, we are still unable to conquer our greatest challenge and fear; death and the ever elusive immortality.
Hol touches a range of themes in his work, which are not only personal but also rather a way to bring the fundamental, the great, and the unexplainable closer together. By making it – not only in technique and material - touchable and huggable, he puts a spell on it and makes life altogether less fearsome. -SueAnn van der Zijpp, curator Groninger Museum, 2009
‘My work is not the book of Truth, neither the book of Light, it’s a play room went wrong, forgotten by its creator. A place ajar where all its confused inhabitants strive for survival in a silent way’. -Johanpeter (Jp) Hol, 2004
Although my work always evolves around to the human paradox (being lonely in the group), I classify my work in four broad, rather fluid & often overlapping themes;
Work with an emphasises on the human paradox & its consequences.
Work that explores the length one goes through to adapt to the group.
- the long, thin line
Work that touches the delicate balance in a group. About the interactions between members of the same group & how the group is formed by each member. Wether that is a social group or a family group; everywhere were a group ‘language’ is created (shibboleths)
- of invisible things
Work that investigates the unspoken, the unsaid between members of the group & towards the outside.