Home Magazine Free will game within a structure. The artistic inclination of Jo Hummel

The British artist Jo Hummel (Hampshire, 1982) will be exhibiting until 9th September at Saatchi Gallery as part of “Studio: response 01”, a platform for new art in the UK. Hummel’s work Sleep (2021) - an abstract collage of shapes, forms and colors - was selected direct from her studio on the Isle of Wight. Dualities and repetition invade Hummel’s practice. Her reductive and phenomenological, yet subjective and free of barriers art finds expression in collage, paintings, installations, sculptural and graphic works.

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Trained at the Royal College of Art London in Digital Media, the arts practice of Jo Hummel is characterized by experiments, improvisation, discrepancies and decisions about pre-cut structural hard edged forms that act in synergy, but without a preordained will, like in an intuitive childhood play. Formalism and freedom: her work is an expression of both. Analog and digital approaches tend to blur. Hummel used to collect ephemera such as vintage print and layout, and found material - the language she developed in her initial years. The social and anthropological distinctive features of destroying, rearranging, sorting and choosing is what drives her practice. Raw edges and accidental marks are part of the process.


Jo Hummel, Sleep, 2021, acrylic on paper and ply, 150 x 220 cm, Courtesy the artist.


Jo Hummel, Transformer, 2019, Acrylic and emulsion on watercolour paper and ply, 150 x 110 x 2 cm, Courtesy Ideelart & the artist.


Trough chopping and slicing paper with scissors and scalpels, and working on the floor, Hummel creative act becomes a ritual, a spontaneous arena where order manifests itself from chaos and the forms, the cycles of nature surpasses the diktat imposed by perfect design ideas.

Guided by intuition, planning, instinct and chance, Hummel’s works are inspired by human habits and behavior. “I’m interested in the cultural artefacts and experiences that are created for celebration, mourning, demonstration, worship or survival which allow us, for a brief moment, to journey psychologically within the joy, sadness, meditation and belief, and freedom or dependence of our fellow beings”. For Hummel, the choice of pastel and block color is informed by the romantic coast of The Isle of Wight, as in Land and Buzz (discover all the availabe works on Kooness). While the color sky blue (“Sora iro: the celestial dome above the surface of the Earth”, in Japanese) is the color of hope, of longing, and of dreaming, emotion is associated mostly to landscape - human uncertainty to unstable landscape and the act of being present to a fluid landscape.


Jo Hummel, Heart, 2020, acrylic and emulsion on watercolor paper and ply, 110 X 150 X 5, Courtesy Ideelart & the artist.


Hummel has always described her process as being related to editing: cut, assemble, build, rearrange and adjust. She paints, front and back, different sheets of watercolor paper - a medium emotionally charged - in different colors and textures in order to give herself options, to always get the chance to undo an action, in a constant work in progress. Then, she examines of how materials and processes are connected to consciousness and the human experience. Eventually, she plays, “cooking up her little monsters” (Jo Hummel’s Instagram) within a preset project grid, thus resulting in a rigorous yet “decontracté” (leisurely) outcome.   

Discover here all available work by Jo Hummel.


Jo Hummel, Hummingbird, 2020, acrylic and emulsion on paper and ply, 150 x 110 cm, Courtesy Ideelart and the artist..


Jo Hummel, Land, 2019, acrylic and emulsion on watercolor paper and ply, 90 x 90 x 2 inch, Courtesy Ideelart and the artist.


Cover image: Jo Hummel, Integration IV, 2021, collage, 112.2 W x 82.3 H x 1.4 D in, Courtesy the artist.

Written by Petra Chiodi

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