Johannes Sowa

Johannes Sowa

Tell me a little bit about you!

I'm a self taught abstract painter who lives in Vienna, Austria. I work in a home for handicapped people as a nurse.

When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?

Back in 2009 I lived in Brooklyn with my wife. We lived in a brownstone with 13 other people and most of them where artists. So I got to hang out with them and discover that I really like to express myself through painting.

What ideas are you exploring in your practice?

Experimenting with structure and discovering the many possibilities a canvas gives you. I think i'm finding my artistic language right now.

In finding that artistic language, where do your ideas come from? 

I get my ideas and from daily life, I guess. From thoughts and feelings, but also from listening to music, reading the newspaper or from a novel.

Do you ever wish you had attended art school, or do you feel that you are finding your own language without it in a way that is better in the long-run?

Not really. I tried getting into art university in Vienna once, but I found that it's not the place for me.  

Do you have any advice you would offer to other artists who might not have formal art school training, or are figuring out whether that's a path for them?

Giving advice is hard. If you have some send them my way. :)

What is your process like?

I usually work on one canvas at a time and just concentrate on one work. It usually takes me up to a week to finish a painting. But it's always different.

Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?

My wife is my mentor. She supports me and gives me ideas and is very motivating.

What is your studio like?

I work on a table in our apartment. I don't really have much space.

What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?

Especially with Instagram I feel a lot of pressure to come up with new paintings every day. The comparison to other artists on that platform is not very motivating.

Do you limit how much time you spend looking at others' work on Instagram?

It's very important for me to take a break from social media from time to time.

If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?

I would have a bourbon with Bukowski and talk about women :)

What are three words you would use to describe your work?


What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?

Take a walk in the woods with my dog.

What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?

That you can do whatever you want with it.

What do you need or value most as an artist?


What keeps you creating?

It's like meditation for me.

What are you working on right now?

On my website.

Find more at jowl.eu and on Instagram @jonathanowl!

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17 from 2017

17 from 2017

Ian Ginsburg: The Mechanical Beetle @ Osnova

Ian Ginsburg: The Mechanical Beetle @ Osnova