Finding a Symbiosis Between Process and Form: Studio Visit with Sculptor, Vero Janovec.
Sometimes I feel we must’ve exhausted our extended network of Berlin artists for these interviews. But then, sometimes, I’ll serendipitously stumble across someone entirely new whose work I immediately fall in love with. Vero Janovec is one of those people. I found Vero’s work on Instagram and was immediately allured by the primordial qualities of her abstract sculptures. I wanted to know more about her practice. And so, a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet Vero at her home for a cup of coffee and a delightfully tangential conversation about her influences, her thoughts on meaning behind work, and how her sculptures relate to nature.
I learned Vero was from Slovakia. I wondered what it was like where she grew up.
“I’m from a small village. A lot of hills and fields. A humble landscape. I like to think I am a city person because I like fastness. I like stimuli. But as I’m growing, I’m realising how nice it is to be calm and alone. When do you ever get to be alone? I had that the last time I visited, this Christmas. Alone for good two hours, somewhere in the middle of a field, while on a run. It was quite regenerative, to get a distance from everything and at the same time connecting to everything around you. Going home offers that.”
As I sat, surrounded by Vero’s pieces, across walls and surfaces, she told me about the foundation of her practice.
“I guess I’m an abstract artist. I work with form, colour and texture. I lean towards work that is associative, or, say incomplete, as opposed to literal. I don’t want to dictate what it is. I’m also not a conceptual artist — I get ideas through making work and following up on it. I make a lot of things intuitively and the work itself generates the thought process. I can have reasons why I do something, but they’re usually aesthetic decisions.”
She went on to describe a recent work of hers: Three Body Problem.
“The name/concept came only after I glazed the piece and the glaze changed the piece’s character completely. The title is a reference to the novel of the same name and a description of a problem in physics. Researching about it inspired me to write a text, and from the text came an idea for a full series.”
“Three Body Problem describes a complex, chaotic situation where three bodies are having an influence on each other’s trajectory due to their mutual gravitational pull. To me, it somehow describes life itself so well. How we bump into people and situations and everybody is affecting each other — and it creates collisions that are chaotic, but also interesting and beautiful. In the process of looking for methods of making the pieces bigger, the series stylistically evolves further. What I am getting at is that it was the process that lead to the thought, and the thought led to further process. Closed circle, again, and again.”
I soon learned that Vero’s identity as a sculptor is a more recent development — her formal education was in the world of architecture.
“I had a great time studying architecture. But I struggled a lot with it too. It was inspiring and difficult, eye-opening and mind-juggling, all the conversations about what architecture can be, what it can generate. It taught me skills I am using in sculpture today for sure — sense of proportions, working three-dimensionally, the appreciation of technique directing the outcome, and photographing too. Studying architecture definitely led to sculpture. Architecture also brought me to do an internship at Tezontle studio in Mexico City. They produce the most wonderful work and Mexico City itself was an incredible experience. It influenced me a lot. So when I came back to Berlin, that link between architecture and sculpture was just made very obvious and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
Witnessing the passion with which she spoke of her architectural studies, I was interested in what caused Vero to diverge from this seemingly inspired path.
“I love to think of space; the relationship between land and space, where you can think of architecture almost as a sculpture, as an act of creating beauty — almost like an abstract composition of space — that’s what I’ve always been enjoying. And I still do it. I work as an architect, but I am leaning more towards interior design recently. I love objects and arranging things. To art and sculpture, I didn’t diverge because I lost passion for architecture. Architecture is so essential. I diverged because of the nature of the work, and the lifestyle it inevitably brings with it. I hope it won’t sound banal, but I need to move when I work. Working with my hands, using tools, standing, making steps back and forth while making something, it fulfils me in a way that I cannot not do it anymore.”
I was curious how Vero explores the visual qualities of her work.
“Recently I work a lot with forms that are suggestive/reminiscent of nature. I enjoy an aesthetic that suggests these life-forming forces as erosion, sedimentation, stratification, growth. That made the quality of the edge in some of my work quite rough, imprecise. There is a lot of pronounced verticality too, ridges and carved out voids. I see some primordial elegance and poeticism in it, but that’s me. I enjoy repetition too, working with a smaller unit and arranging them. That’s how there are also references to flowers in my work too, buds, petals, protruding curved tips.”
I wanted to learn how Vero understands and relates to her own work, and the journey she took to find this relationship.
“I think I wasn’t very collected before. I don’t want to say it was confused — but it has just been such an immense time of finding myself and experimenting. But when you realise where you heading, it’s so satisfying… For example, when I moved to my own place, I finally saw where [the sculptures] belong to. I think it relates back to my background in architecture and interior. I see them in a domestic space. When I make my work, I don’t imagine it in a gallery hanging, but in someone’s room.”
“I like to say, it is the objects that make the room up, and it’s their aggregation and arrangement that creates the atmosphere. As an architect and sculptor, it’s such a beautiful meeting of these two fields and that’s how I came to peace with the eclecticism of my work too.”
Do you think the things we find beautiful are learned? Or do you think these things are just inside us?
“I think it’s learned… Definitely the way I judge or look at my sculptures has been formed through my architectural studies and mainly, through the books and references I look at. So I think it’s learned — but when you recognize it, it tells you something about you, it teaches you something about your mind. Because you make certain links to your past when you find something alluring, beautiful or sublime."
Thank you to Vero. You can find her links below.
Instagram -- Website -- Catalog
Words by Ewan Waddell.
Photography by Karim Marold & Ewan Waddell.