Six Questions

Six Questions: Jörgen Axelvall

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Jörgen Axelvall.

Artist Jörgen Axelvall
Lives in Tokyo, Japan
Website https://www.jorgenaxelvall.com/

How do you describe your own art practice? 

It’s evolving. I came forth as a photographer, an epithet too limiting for what I like to convey. Using techniques I’m not proficient in makes me anxious but I look beyond. Recently I was physically constrained due to health issues; I created with whatever tools accessible and manageable. It was liberating. I’m also writing. Half a lifetime of voracious reading and I finally dare to pen.

Jörgen Axelvall
untitled / verse two
from ‘Go To Become’
unique archival pigment print 2017 729 x 910 mm
[ink-stamped with Mutsuo Takahashi’s original hand writing / manuscript]

Which question or theme is central in your work?

Ever since childhood I’ve pondered the age-old question: what’s the meaning of life –  or more specifically – what’s the purpose of humanity and what’s my role. I spend a healthy amount of time ruminating about an immeasurable universe but I create from a micro perspective; drawn with certitude:  my own winding life.

Jörgen Axelvall
untitled / sunrise 4
from ‘Go To Become’
archival pigment print 2019 729 x 910 mm

What was your first experience with art?

Born in rural Sweden I was baptized in the small village church. Swedish society is largely secular and so is my family; still the church’s omnipresent – a traditional marvel of sorts. I’m an atheist and religion is not a central part of my art but seeing grand, iconic and often dramatic religious iconography time and again throughout childhood, long before any museum visits, made a real impression as if now engraved in my DNA. How the environment, its imagery and perceived art, affect us is something I’d like to explore further.

Jörgen Axelvall
untitled / Ly 5
from ‘And I reminisce’
archival pigment print 2018 729 x 910 mm

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Life itself is an endless source of inspiration. Experiences far from my comfort zone conduce the most interesting work. Some events take years to process, others are immediate. This past year I presented two very different bodies of work. One has been in the making for years. Titled ‘And I reminisce’ I examine childhood memories to better understand my queerness. The other concerns my very recent battle with cancer. Pain and blood.

I also find the written word, books or just about any text, to be an inspirational treasure trove. Reading has the ability to expand one’s consciousness, infinitely. 

Jörgen Axelvall
untitled / Shia 2
from ‘And I reminisce’
archival pigment print 2021 729 x 910 mm

What do you need in order to create your work?

I need a good night’s sleep and personal space. I’m comfortable being by myself, always have been. We all need some quiet time to process events. I conceive my work daytime in solace and nighttime spooning; that precious short moment before falling, asleep.

Jörgen Axelvall
untitled / Polaroid 488
from ‘And I reminisce’
archival pigment print 2018 729 x 910 mm

What work or artist has most recently surprised you? 

Not long ago I landed on “Yesterday’s Sandwich II” by Boris Mikhailov. It’s a collection of prints made from ‘sandwiched’ color slides. It’s visually striking and unique. Mikhailov wasn’t afraid of criticizing the Soviet Union he lived in. He’s a recipient of the Hasselblad prize and other accolades. Admittedly he was not on my radar. To incidentally encounter great work is exciting and humbling; a reminder of existing achievements. Meanwhile, the wheel is reinvented almost daily.

Jörgen Axelvall
untitled / 3:19 AM
from ‘Go To Become’
archival pigment print 2018 729 x 910 mm

out now

Tique | publication on contemporary art #3: Six Questions