Jana & JS


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Jana and JS
29 Wednesday 29th June 2011

So what inspires you two to paint?

The city, and the people who live in it.

We can tell you clearly have a love for photography. Where do you think your own art fits between painting and photography?

Our paintings re-shape our photographic work. We really like taking photos but love the freedom painting and stencils give us. They let us construct our own imagery and illustrate what we see in our own way. Our work is really just the translation of our photography, filtered through our imaginations and the tools we use to paint.

How long have you been painting city walls with your 'street paparazzi' pieces?

We first started our photography paintings four years ago, in 2007.

How did you two meet and start working together?

Well we met in Madrid when we happened to be living in the same flat in 2004. We've been fully working together under the Jana Und JS name for the last four years, but in reality we'd already done some work together before then. That's sort of the official start.

What do you hope your artwork makes people think about?

Above all, we look to integrate it as much as possible with the environment in which it's painted, and of course we're happy when that works out well. Once the work is up we don't really wait or look for a specific reaction to it, per se. Instead it's a lot more interesting to discover people engaging with it in a way we hadn't thought of before. But more often than not we do hope that our works rouses some sort of emotion in the people who see it.

Where did you first start tagging the streets? And in which cities do you show your outdoor work now?

We started in Spain, in Madrid, and from then on started to do loads of stuff in Paris. Now we live in Germany by the border with Austria, and do work there too. In the past we've also tagged streets in Romania, Vienna, Moscow, Berlin, Hamburg, Bratislava... The list goes on.

We've also seen you do pieces indoors. Why do you think you carry your obsession with city architecture and city silhouettes to canvasses indoors?

To start with we never really thought we'd be doing these big wall pieces. Today we think it's really interesting to develop ideas and things that aren't just an imitation of the work we do on the streets. Urban architecture and structure is still central to our work and we love to play with the city's elements to pull together work that we couldn't necessarily do on the streets. We see our work sort of like windows to the outside world, through which we see and explore.

How much do you consider your stencil work graffiti, street art or photography?

Well, our stencils are sort of like a translation of our photographic work, so somewhere between all three. The main goal in our street art interventions isn't to show off what we do at all costs but really to create gateways throguh which people re-interpret what they do in urban spaces.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

We've learned a lot from and often work with Artiste Ouvrier, a stencil and street artist. We are inspired by Edward Hopper, surrealistic painters like Magritte and the abstract geometrical movement. Wim Wenders' photographs are a good starting point too.

Finally, what is next for Jana & JS? Any new projects?

We just hope to continue to paint together for a long time, to travel and make these huge murals. Most of all, that's what makes us happy!


Keep up with the duo's new work on their site here. Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled if you happen to be in any of the cities they tag...

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