Johan Deckmann

THE ART OF NOT FALLING APART Solo Show

NOVEMBER 18TH - DECEMBER 17TH 2021

Galerie Mighela Shama is pleased to present The Art of Not Falling Apart, a solo exhibition of Danish artist and poet Johan Deckmann, in Geneva, Switzerland.

As many poets, Johan Deckmann strives to employ words carelessly. His phrases stem from long periods of reflection and aim to trigger existential interrogations rather than sheer communication.

Johan Deckmann, Avoid Criticism, 2021, Acrylic on book, 27.5 x 21 cm.

Johan Deckmann, My Old Lady, 2017, Acrylic on book, 28 x 22 cm.

Johan Deckmann, I Don't Know, 2017, Acrylic on book, 31.5 x 24 cm.

Born in 1976 in Copenhagen, Johan Deckmann is mainly known for his staged aphorisms on used objects that have gone viral on Instagram. His father was an antique furniture dealer and his mother, a painter. As a teenager, Deckmann wrote lyrics, composed music and performed as an indie-rock songwriter. While studying psychology in Copenhagen, he found himself spending most of his free time painting. “People survive in different ways” he says “Some travel the world, others drink. I’ve always escaped through fantasy.”

Exhibition view, The Art of Not Falling Apart, 2021. Photo Julien Gremaud.

Johan Deckmann, The Art of Not Falling Apart, 2020, Acrylic on book, 29.5 x 21 cm.

Deckmann practiced as a Gestalt therapist for 10 years, collecting on the side, phrases, words and ideas. “I basically write all day. My words add up, it’s like doing math.” In 2015, while reading Jean-Paul Satres’ Being and Nothingness , he is struck by an evidence that seems as natural as “a runner deciding to run faster”. He realizes that his ideas and thoughts are meant to be summarized and “boiled down the fewest words possible”. Rumanian philosopher Emil Cioran was hit by the same revelation during his career but unlike Deckmann, he continued assembling his aphorisms into books. Deckmann, who lives in the age of social media and NFTs, places his aphorisms on books. “Finding the right support is part of my quest. The book covers I select enable my phrases to exist.”

Exhibition view, The Art of Not Falling Apart, 2021. Photo Julien Gremaud.

Originally influenced by American pop art, Deckmann adheres to the idea “that everything is potentially art” and retrieves most of his inspiration “through daily observations, let it be at the supermarket or while standing next to a couple discussing in an elevator.”

Exhibition view, The Art of Not Falling Apart, 2021. Photo Julien Gremaud.

Hard to classify, his oeuvre combines a dialectic of paradoxes. “How to gain instant success by lowering your standards” or “how to avoid criticism by doing nothing, saying nothing and being nothing” are typical deckmannien interrogations. Simultaneously trivial and disturbingly true, they illustrate with precision our current narcissistic yet existential anxieties. “People think I’m doing humor”, explains Deckmann, “but 90% of the time, I’m extremely serious about the phrases I use in my work.”


Johan Deckmann, The Words, 2017, Acrylic on cover, 25 x 27 cm.

In tune with our attention culture and the ongoing flood of information that invade our screens and therefore our lives - Deckmann’s pieces, which have gained recognition thanks to social media, oddly reactivate objects that may be considered as dead: old books, land phones, heavy leathered suitcases with no wheels and perhaps, why not, poetry.

Exhibition view, The Art of Not Falling Apart, 2021. Photo Julien Gremaud.

Through Johan Deckmann’s exhibition The art of not falling apart, gallerist Mighela Shama directs a wink at the recent art market trend of non-fungible token (NFT) – “What if” she says with an amused gaze, “the trend went the other way around. Towards recycling material instead of multiplying the immaterial?”

Johan Deckmann, Stories for my Grandchildren, 2018, Acrylic on book, 25 x 18 x 6 | 15 x 10 x 0.5 cm.