Julia Pivén is an artist, organizer, DJ, writer, and model from Sweden. In this piece, she describes her artistry, which is built on dark existentialism and many years of practice at the easel. She has a background as a painting student at Gothenburg School of Art and as founder of various art organizations and projects. At 26 years, she has managed to exhibit her art throughout Sweden, Germany and Denmark, with collectors in different parts of Europe and North America.
Pivén works with existential and dark themes, as well as on the subject of mental health. She believes that art is the language we use in order to communicate the unique complexity we experience in life. She prefers working either with highly pigmented oils or ink drawings, and is not afraid to use striking colours to convey her vision.
She aims to be bold and in control in her brush strokes, and that raw energy shows. Her imaginative oil paintings and drawings have their own life, and often have more depth than meets the eye. It takes a certain type of artist to describe darkness and horror using colour, and a certain type of person to be able to tell a story in such few strokes. The art of Pivén is sprawling and incomplete, which is for the best, according to herself – as it’s a good premise for creative growth.
By Julia Pivén
To paint has been important to me ever since things started going south. I don’t really have any clear sources of inspiration, especially since we’re all bombarded with so much information every day, that there’s plenty of impressions to go around. However, something that does inspire me a lot is people creating; no matter their skill level. I love meeting around art, which is why I’ve created many platforms for just that over the years.
I have few artistic idols and influences that I’m aware of, but the theme of mental health does come to mind. As a person with experiences of living with schizoaffective disorder, I have a certain perspective on life. Perhaps that’s what makes my art special.
”Witches and whores become human” – so reads the headline of one of the articles published about my very first exhibition in 2015. “Ur Minnet” [EN “From Memory”] was a discovery of the genre of archive art, which in large part consisted of hours upon hours deep in the archives, searching through witch trial protocols and police documents. I was looking to get to know these displaced women whom history only knew as witches, prostitutes, and beggars. In collaboration with Malmö city archives and Malmö Stad, I was able to present a collection of portraits depicting these women of the city’s past, dating back to the 1600s. The collection is now preserved in Julia Pivén’s Collection at Malmö city archives.
Another art form I explored in the beginning was body art. However, it was less of an art project and more an almost primal urge for self expression which exceeded the limits of makeup and canvas.
Since then, I’ve been lucky to attend Gothenburg School of Art, which is where the “spark” happened; as students we were made to abandon acrylics and try our hand at oil painting. A whole new world opened. The depth of the medium, the pigments, the ways of application and behaviour of the paint completely captured me. I came to expand from my darker portraits, venturing into abstract colourscapes, such as the piece “In search for I”, spanning 250x180cm. Colour mixing and mixed media experimentation made new worlds possible, such as in “If only I had danced,” wherein I mixed textures, oil and my beloved pastels.
I’ve also participated in the EU artist exchange, during which I spent three months in Berlin. There, I learned about leather work, sustainable art, what life as a practising artist can be like, and so much more.
Vow 2019 is a suicide prevention artwork produced around New Year’s, along with over a hundred participants who all supported the cause and vowed to continue on throughout the year of 2019. The piece includes their names, along with quotes of, and odes to, many individuals who where lost to suicide over the years.
I served as chairperson and organizer for the national art association, Avgrunden [EN: The Abyss]. This gave me invaluable experiences collaborating with other artists and publications, as we organised numerous art shows and learning exchanges throughout Sweden.
I’ve only just begun to realise the possibilities of art as an intermediary with the surrounding world. I’m excited to learn what more lies hidden in the paint.
The art of Julia Pivén of can be found at the following links: www.juliapiven.com www.facebook.com/artbyjuliapiven www.instagram.com/juliapivenart www.gallerima.com/artists/julia-piven/