Jan Svenungsson

"The New", in: thema, Sonderbeilage in der Wiener Zeitung, Vienna 2015

Every morning when I enter the studio, I hope that today something will happen which will bring me forward. Nevertheless, I couldn’t raise my hand, point and say with certainty: forward is in this direction. I don’t know where forward is, although I must always assume I do.

I spend a lot of time working on what I see as problems, trying to bring pictures (or things or texts) to a point where I feel there is closure. A point where, independent of what form the work has taken, it has gained individuality and is ready to be let go. Yet if this fulfillment of promise happens right where I thought it would occur, it is quite likely that the work might not be a success after all. You don’t need to mess around with paint or tools or words in order to affirm what you already know. If this is your wish, you can just state it plainly: “after X, Y will follow.”

When we are making art, we are all looking in our different ways to create situations where the New – new sensations, new knowledge, new information, new fun or new sadness – appears in surprising ways. The longing for the New is the motor which drives art and artists forward. We artists differentiate ourselves only in where and how we go looking for it, and with what frequency and intensity.

The New may reveal itself through what at first looks like error and mishap. One reason I like to work with analog printmaking techniques is their dependence both on planning a complex process in advance and on using manual skills to fulfill the plan. Your hand must do what your brain has calculated. There will always be friction, and there might be deviation. Finally, the result is produced through the utilization of machinery. The process is analog but not analogous. Mistakes happen. Surprises occur. Eventually, the New might appear.

Jan Svenungsson