In Conversation With: Johanna Abchee

BY Harper's Bazaar Arabia / Feb 21 2016 / 20:40 PM

The artist behind Karma J Mirrors talks to Bazaar about the importance of self-reflection and artistic transparency

In Conversation With: Johanna Abchee

“It’s actually my birthday today” exclaims Johanna Abchee, in a blasé tone that suggests everyone trades conventional celebrations for a press breakfast in a foreign country.

Over a couple of poached eggs and freshly baked chocolate croissants, for which I was fortunate enough to find myself seated right next to the Swedish-Iraqi artist, it became more than perspicuous that the collection of contemporary and eclectic mirror installations hanging on the white walls of La Serre’s boulangerie were much more than just an aesthetic celebration of craftsmanship. From quirky to quaint, each mirror is a reflection, literally and figuratively, of Abchee’s background and being. Inspired by a multitude of art periods, from the visual angles of the impressionists to the incorporation of block letters from the era of pop-art, Abchee’s collection is a visual analysis of who she is; a woman, mother and wife.

The Illusionist Collection

“I think people should grow more flowers!” she says in reference to one of her pieces whose inscription reads ‘grow more flowers,’ a piece that embodies the overarching theme of the collection, which is to simply slow down, reflect and shine. She goes on to make mention of the fact that a large proportion of her creative process is accredited to the act of self-reflection and contemplation, phenomena she holds in reverence both artistically and personally.

The Royal Collection

When asked if she fears the prospect of her work being overlooked due to their instalment in a boulangerie, where it is not improbable that diners will mistake them for a part of the restaurant’s interiors, she states that the walls of the bakery do not compete with her pieces, rather complement them. Additionally, exhibiting a true impressionist mentality that extends further than her technique, she believes there is an urgency within the art realm to utilise everyday objects in everyday spaces so as to grant society the much-needed access to different sources of daily inspiration.

The Impressionist Collection

As she shows me around her collection of intricate pieces, I am met with an understanding of the poetic justice that accompanies an artist who is not sacrificing their birthday for their work but instead, celebrating their existence through it. - Tanika D'Souza

 Karma J Mirrors is on display until May at La Serre, Dubai.