WHEN SWEDISH SIMON HJORTEK'S PERFORMING, CREATIVITY ARISES IN WHAT WE ASSOCIATE WITH SOMETHING UNCREATIVE AND BLAND.
MARIE BERTELSEN | ARTICULATE #23 | APR 2020
Swedish artist and filmmaker Simon Hjortek, aka Magnificent Beast, takes us back to a world of the 70's with pastel colours, retro clothing and wooden gym buildings. You can almost smell the cigarettes being lit in orange apartments and anticipate an adventure of curious nature. Hjortek plays around with the light, media and creates worlds which seems absurd, but oddly familiar. Creativity arises in what we associate with something uncreative and bland, perhaps a local school or the room of a teenager. Hjortek keeps things hidden in his artworks, such as hiding the eyes or ears, or hiding an important object in the frame. You are not bored, you have puzzles to solve, even if it is in an institution.
For Hjortek creating is about exploring. Exploring what will happen if you adventure, see what happens if you break something apart and glue it back together in a new way. Hjortek states, that his passion for creating emerges from the philosophy that anything goes. Art suspends what is right and wrong. It allows you to stand naked outside in the freezing winter, holding watermelons, photographing yourself, and turning it into a photo montage. Art allows you to spend 12 hours a day gluing jellybeans on a cardboard making it a painting. Art justifies making actions and patterns that otherwise would be considered mad. Exactly this is what Hjortek find to be fantastic and highly inspirational. The goal is to create a piece of art that makes you linger. If something in an image makes you look and throws you off your feet, then we can consider it as good composition and good art, Hjortek says. It does not need to be dramatic or over the top. It could be a detail in the picture, a color or just the way the light falls upon the subject.
"Everyone has different frameworks for what makes us go kaboom inside", Hjortek says.
The media Hjortek prefers are photography and filmmaking, and here it is the whole work process from planning, shooting, post-processing. For Hjortek it is the best tool to visualize ideas. Recently Hjortek took up 3D rendering because of the endless possibilities. Hjortek describes how he grew up spending a lot of time in front of computers and dibbled and dabbled with Photoshop and video editing. The digital workflow of today's era suits him well.
The way Hjortek’s works are created can be understood as something in between being spontaneous and planned out. The ideas themselves are always very spontaneous and are finished when they emerge in his mind. But finding the right locations, the right people, testing and preparing can takes weeks or even months.
The spontaneous ideas can happen when he is doing mundane acts, such as showering, doing the dishes or vacuum-cleaning, and choosing an idea is different each time. For instance, stumbling upon an abandoned mansion near his house, images might take form when he is walking inside of it and a whole series of artworks can be thought out. He also mentions thrift shopping and for instance finding an old ski overall or a broken radio, that might spur inspiration for a series of different works. Sometimes images are based upon music or words and sometimes even dreams. Hjortek is drawn to mysteries and oddities, when things are missing, not shown or juxtapositioned.
Anything that makes you wonder and want more is generally good, and perhaps partly due to this, Hjortek mentions the Finnish author Tove Jansson (1914-2001) and her world of Moomins (1945) as a main inspiration.
It is due to its great use of mystery and wisdom. When he mentions other artists and works he is inspired by, he does not mention Michelangelo, but instead vintage sci-fi movies. To Hjortek, movies which are strange and beautiful can open up whole new worlds of inspiration, such as the French movie Amélie (2001).
This article about Simon Hjortek takes part of magazine, ARTICULATE #23. Read, download or order your print version of the full publication below