Janne Parviainen: Fascinated with Art

An Interview with the Painter, Photographer & Light Graffiti Artist

Painting on Glass by Janne Parviainen

For Janne Parviainen, even an old glass window can become a canvas. He is a painter, photographer and light graffiti artist.

Born in Kerava, Finland in 1980, Janne Parviainen is attracted by unusual media. He prefers using three-dimensional canvases to express his creative self.

Plenty of times he simply uses old glasses of windows to intricately portray the myriad moments of a city. He paints on both sides of the glass.

At night he sets out in the dark and desolate places to capture the illuminations of light paintings. He uses the depth of the night’s darkness to create these ephemeral works of art. Let us explore the multiple dimensions of the artist in Janne.

Painting by Janne Parviainen

You are a glass painter of a very different kind. Why this fascination of using old windows as canvas? What first inspired you to step into the world of art and create your own niche?

I started using glass as a canvas out of curiosity; I found a glass from my apartments trash bin and took it to my studio just to try to paint on it. The result looked so interesting and opened new ways to paint that I was immediately hooked! With glass I can use both sides of the canvas unlike in any other medium, which was a very intriguing aspect in working with it. I especially like to use old windows because of the recycling aspect and also because I like the idea that the material has a history of its own. Plus the windows come with frames so it eases the after work for me so that I don’t have to frame the paintings afterwards.

I have always been fascinated with art; ever since childhood I have always wanted to become an artist so that is something very natural for me. My mother painted very much in our home when I was a kid and we had lots of art books so I think that has affected me quite much. Also my brother is an artist, so it seems to run in the family.

Hailing from Finland you are still privileged to have nature around you even after rapid urbanisation compared to some others parts of the world. Sitting at the threshold where nature is in positive danger of being engulfed how you see the transformation through your artist’s eyes.

It is a privilege to live in Finland with all the nature around us. It’s an endless inspiration for my photographs and the change in the seasons makes it very varying too. It is a good thing that in Finland the major urbanisation concentrates in small areas; there are some 10 large central areas where the majority of Finnish people live so most of the country is still forest and countryside.

Light Painting by Janne ParviainenLight Painting by Janne Parviainen
Light Painting

You incorporate a sense of depth both through your painting and light art. Do you spontaneously come up with the story for your art or plan ahead meticulously? How the dimensions of the artist in you has metamorphosed so far?

I usually start with some kind of a sketch for my paintings and light art, but improvise quite a lot while working on the subject; that way I think I get more spontaneity to the art work. I’m basically quite positive person but my art work somehow always turns out to a bit melancholic; maybe it’s the way I experience the world; sad and beautiful at the same time.

When I started doing art I was more interested in presenting the forms and impressions of the world, but nowadays I am more interested in the subjects beyond what we see, such as emotions and how the world works, rather than what it looks like. I think that is the biggest change in me as an artist and I really like that direction since I’m more and more interested in politics and how the human mind works and how we affect the world with our actions.

As a light artist the darkness of the night forms the backdrop for all of your creations, you manage to appeal to our visual sensations at a time when as humans we are literally blind; how do you feel when you are able to invoke life into an otherwise dark numbness?

I think invoking new worlds from the darkness is the most amazing thing in making light art. It feels truly magical seeing the finished photo appear on the camera’s screen, which is something I never get tired of. Also what really intrigues me in light art is the ability to draw in three dimensional spaces, which is something you cannot do in any other media. Ever since I first started experimenting with light art, my mind has been just buzzing with new ideas what I could do with it and that is something I really enjoy.

Your explorations of urban landscapes are tinged with nostalgia. Tell us about the emotionality you find and depict in your paintings while staring at the city outside through the glasses of the windows.

Like I said before I’m a very happy but also very melancholic person. For me the city landscape is romantic; it is where most of the people live and therefore it is a place where a lot of human emotions and life in general takes place. Life can be happy or sad, tragic or boring, but it is always life and I enjoy absorbing it; living it and observing it. I feel I have lived most of my live fully, but on some level just being on the side observing other peoples life and maybe that is what I’m trying to capture in my paintings too.

I have come to the conclusion that sketches are almost always better than actual drawings since they preserve so much more emotion and spontaneity, so nowadays I make my sketches straight on glass for the finished painting. Since my paintings are usually quite big and very heavy, I have to rely on photographs as a reference material. I never use projecting or such tools for my paintings because in my opinion copying using a projected picture would be too analytic and cold to represent the feelings I want to capture in my work. When the drawing has been processed through my brain from the reference photograph to the canvas it has been filtered through my experiences and emotions and has so much more soul than a projected copy. Plus I really enjoy challenging my brains on as complex structures as I possibly can, it is such a great feeling when succeeded well.

You have a collaborator in your wife and your brother too is an accomplished artist. Does being in such an artistic atmosphere really aid in the process of creativity?

I am very lucky to have such an amazing wife to understand and help in my projects; I think all my best photos I have done with her and it is a perfect symbolise to work! Also working with my brother is a constant help for me and we gain a lot from the synergy of helping one another. I think it’s the same rule as in life in general; every problem and misery is harder to figure out alone than with the help from others.

Portrait of Janne Parviainen

Janne Parviainen enjoys…

The constant inspiration for me is music and books which I consume quite a lot. For me, the best antidepressant is listening to good music and reading a good book (although now with my three little children the spare time is quite limited, but those short moments feel as much more rewarding). Also what drives me artistically forward is trying to understand the madness of the human mind and why we act how we do to each other. There is so much goodness in everybody that it never ceases to amaze me why we do so much evil towards each other.

It is hard to name a specific favourite book, there are too many, but my favourite music must be the divine music of Cinematic Orchestra.

Find more of his work at his website.

Image Courtesy: Janne Parviainen