words and art by JWAN YOSEF


As an artist I seem to spend most of my time in an alien situation, in many ways standing outside general employment while turning my creative process into a daily routine. 

Looking at it from the outside it leaves you with a big question mark (but, what do you actually do?), while in the midst of it it’s all pretty clear. All I know is to work; at the same time I know nothing of actual work. I think initially I made some futile attempt to separate my practice from myself; saying I ‘work’ as an artist instead of I ‘am’ an artist. That didn’t last very long. I find myself mostly not ever separating myself from my job, not that I’m constantly painting but more in the sense that I’m never really tuning out. Naturally, one thinks, my work is completely about myself (is there any work that’s not self referential?). Looking back aged 19 I proved myself worthless in mathematics, by 20 I had emptied my brain of all it’s contents by doing the Swedish military service (The alternative would have been the Syrian military service, the ‘perks’ of dual citizenship). This however led to a certain determination in creating something out of nothing: Art. One way of knowing what to do is knowing what not to do. I’ve never had a good sense for making money, however broadening one’s perspective one realizes there are many different currencies worth earning. Art was an essential part of my life from a very early age. As a painter I had this immediate urge to work away from the classical ‘heavy’ form of canvas painting. It just wasn’t for me. I take art seriously thus finding it important to have a relaxed approach to making. I’ve experimented with many different media, from Perspex, to tracing paper, to video work and so on. There’s of course a need to constantly be on the move and expand, artistically. It’s a terrible thing becoming a stagnating artist (It is also exhausting to look at stagnating artists). One of the more difficult things in life is knowing when to stop. There’s nothing more disappointing than looking at an obviously over-painted piece. It’s as transparent as an overacted character; simplicity in all forms of art is key. The duality of my background being a Syrian/Swede has in many ways lead to a blissfully confused person. Never really being part of the norm, be it heritage, sexuality or profession forces you to un-relate and adopt a lateral take on things.  I’ve always appreciated a tricky person, someone wrestling with complexes; adding friction to ones life. A rogue character wearing his flaws upon his sleeves and heroic intentions hidden away.  

The nature of people’s dualism leads you to think that one man’s enemy is another man’s son is another man’s boyfriend is another man’s hero.