The eye-catching works of Norwegian artist Jonny Hurts are best described as an explosion of colour, created using an ever-increasing number of techniques from neon and fluorescent lights to paint, foam and even smoke. After rising to fame as part of the Broslo Duo with a series of popular event-based exhibitions around the world, this year Jonny held his first solo exhibition, "Once upon a time” at the Fineart gallery in his hometown of Oslo.
We caught up with Jonny to hear more about his relationship with colour and materials, what inspires his playful approach to art, and what a day’s work in the studio looks like for an artist working with so many forms.
Hi! Showing my own art to the public for the first time has been a great experience. It’s a little different than doing it together with Nikko (Nikolai Gyllenhammar of Broslo), a little more pressure on my shoulders. Nevertheless, the exhibition had more than 10,000 visitors, which is more than I dreamed. Meeting a lot of new people and opening my world to them has been nothing more than just fun.
My approach to art is to make people smile and get curious. It is fun and easy to view at first sight, but there is a more complex layer. I want people to reflect and feel educated, whilst also seeing something interesting. Almost every piece tells a story – whether personal or a particular subject I feel deserves some focus, it is a way for me to express my feelings. I have this engine inside that craves to create, and that engine is almost impossible to turn off.
“Once upon a time” was my first solo exhibition which is why I chose that name - like the start of my own art fairy tale.
I had been going through some personal issues during the run-up, and I came close to a much more negative theme, but I decided to turn that negativity into something more positive for myself and the audience. After two years of Covid and isolation, we needed something positive, so I turned everything around and focused on trying to make every piece as happy as possible, even though there was a more serious message behind the piece.
I am always developing and playing with new materials. It’s exciting to see how they behave under different conditions and over time. Since I was a little kid I have been curious, using things in ways that they were not originally designed. My room looked more like a construction site than a kid's bedroom!
A piece I made for my recent exhibition, named “F##K the kids”, is made out of a broken windshield from a bus. It gave the piece something special and further emphasised the message behind it. It ended up being a really heavy piece, over 250KGs, which made it almost impossible to move around!
Digital art is something I have been doing for a very long time, but with NFT´s you have a platform where you can trade digital art and you have digital ownership that only you have access too. It solves some of the issues we have with ownership to PHYSICAL art pieces today. It is impossible to fake an NFT as an example. Digital art is gonna become a big part of the future of the art scene.
I do most of my work in the studio. I’ve been at Fornebu since 2014, an abandoned airport right outside of Oslo. It has some great spaces for creating and a good community of artists. I spend a lot of time at the studio, but i try to have my routines before going in. I work out, swim, sauna, then have breakfast.
After that, I always try to set my meetings as early as possible so I can get into my creative mode. It's not every day I get to create physically, but in one way or another, I work with the art almost every second of the day. Most of my projects have two sides - an idea stage and a creation stage. I would say its 50% me running around creating, 50% sitting down at my desk working on sketches and ideas digitally.
The only problem with my studio is the space does not get bigger but the art pieces do. I myself am okay working in a chaotic environment, but it's not very scaleable. I have some ideas on how to improve the workspace, so hopefully, it gets even better in the future.
The HÅG Capisco is actually a perfect match to my approach to artwork – its playful; it’s not set in any particular way. I love that you can sit in so many different ways; it kind of makes you feel that you aren’t actually at work whilst using it. The fact I could choose from a range of colours was also a bonus. I would almost always choose colour over black or white in anything and I chose colours to match my artwork, which is great.
The best way to experience my art is in real life, but you can also check out my Instagram @jonnyhurts – here you can also find out about my upcoming exhibitions and future plans. If you are into digital art, you can also explore some of my recent NFT’s here.
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