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Skrämmande bra monsterkonst

Jag var på väg till Tempelhof och stannade upp vid ett galleri. Som ett barn pressade jag ansiktet mot fönsterrutan. Där inne levde monster; håriga, i sprakande färger, i matta toner, med vassa tänder, mekaniska plåtgubbar med ett, två, tre ögon, men samtidigt helt underbara och vackra, söta, sprudlande och tankeväckande.

En tid senare ramlar jag över ännu ett liknande galleri vid Kottbusser Tor. Monstren verkar förfölja mig. Jag fastnar för en liten krabat med en kudde tryckt mot bröstet – ”Please” – jag faller pladask.


Nocturnal my ass / Johan Potma

Konstnärerna som ger liv åt detta monstruösa, men vardagliga och vackra i en pälsboll från yttre rymden eller mörka vrår under sängen är Mateo Dineen och Johan Potma. De träffades och började arbeta tillsammans på loppmarknader för många år sedan. Istället för att konkurrera ut varandra valde de att hjälpas åt. Kundkretsen breddades, fler kom och frågade om den senaste konsten och efter en tid öppnade de sitt första gemensamma galleri, Zozoville. Några år senare öppnade de ännu ett galleri på den folktäta gatan Oranienstrasse vid Kottbusser Tor. Det riktigt kryllar av monster i Berlin.

Monstret är i Johans och Mateos bilder mänsklig. En utomjording går vilse och vecklar ut en karta i sitt rymdskepp, i bakgrunden ser man berg och dalgångar. En gammal skruttig plåtgubbe skramlar fram med käpp och en liten hårig figur sitter i badet och lyssnar på Pink Floyd. Det får en att le och filosofera över konstens makt över känslorna.

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Songs of What I Should've Said / Johan Potma


Meadow monster / Mateo Dineen

Nedan ser ni en intervju som jag gjorde med Johan och Mateo för en tid sedan, och som jag tänkte dela med mig av på min Vagabond-blogg. Och om ni har vägarna förbi Berlin och är ute efter konstupplevelser – satsa på monstret!


Johan och Mateo /Foto: Patricia Fiol

– Why more then one gallery?

Mateo: If you had told me 15 years ago that I’d own one gallery, let alone 3, I wouldn’t have believed you. So why 3? It just sort of happened. Johan and I were sharing the first Zozoville Gallery and space was running out. We both felt we needed to get some breathing room, and decided to branch out and get our own spaces. Then right about the same time, we were given the opportunity to rent a space on Oranienstrasse. It seemed too good to be true, so we took the chance and viola, 2 shared galleries, and 1 each for us both.

– What does the galleries mean for you and your work with Mateo?

Johan: The galleries are the result of our work together. We’ve come a long way in the 10 years we’ve worked together now. They are a big part of my work. I feel truly blessed with all that happened with me, Mateo and Zozoville. I am very grateful I can make a living doing what I love to do.


Iron Aged / Mateo Dineen

– When did you know what to do in life?

Mateo: I figured out what my life’s focus would be after travelling in a small VW bus through the United States. I had been travelling for several months and doing lots of reading, writing, and drawing. The long drives also gave me plenty of time to think. After about 4 months, 2 thousand miles from home, I asked myself a simple question ”If I could do whatever I wanted to do for living; what would it be?” I answered honestly and immediately, ”Art”. So I moved back home to California and enrolled in art school. It was a good choice. I was 20 years old.

– How do you begin working on a piece, what inspires you?

Mateo: The majority of my paintings are begun as a sketch. I draw all the time and have loads and loads of sketches. I often sift through the new and old ones to see if any particular ideas jump out. In the instances where I don’t find an existing sketch that inspires me, I’ll take my sketchpad and pencils to a cafe or to the park. Once there, I put my headphones on with some good tunes and do my best to get into a flow to find an idea that sticks. The ideas themselves are often inspired by experiences that I’ve had. In many cases these ideas are simply moments where monsters get caught up in the same issues that we ”normal” people deal with.

– If stuck. How do you go on?

Mateo: I tend to get stuck when I put too much pressure on myself to create something ”great”. I can sometimes get caught up in conceptualising what a piece could be, or mean. I think it’s ok to visualise ideas, but at some point the pen has to hit the page and start creating. So really, the solution for getting stuck is momentum. I simply turn off the critical voices in my head and I let it flow. It’s only when I allow myself to create whatever I feel like (regardless if it is ”great”) that the truly inspired ideas begin to show up.


Swamp thing / Johan Potma


Johan Potma använder olika material som bas för sin konst! Allt från lock, väskor till röntgenbilder.

– Why did you start using the material that you use for your art?

Johan: The materials I work with are the result of much experimentation with a whole range of different materials and techniques. I’ve worked with a great variety of things, trying to come up with interesting imagery. My background-material, which nowadays is mainly wood or metal, has been many different things. Cardboard, canvas, x-ray photos and all sorts of weirdly, interesting objects. I love being faced with the little problems the material presents once you start painting on them. All the little cracks, dents, scratches etc. are things I can use to push my work in different directions during the making. I don’t know what will happen once I start painting. Problem solving my way through the thing until it is somewhat done.

– How does your the creative process look like?

Johan: I love to just sit down and start. No plans, just to see where it goes. A dot becomes a line, a line becomes a shape and before you know it I am working on a creature of some sort. I think that through this process about 95 % of what I draw goes little to nowhere. The remaining 5% will give me stuff that can potentially be a start of a painting. The painting process is one of many layers and just working back and forth with the background and the background material.

– And what’s your best piece of art that you’ve done?

Johan: My daughter 😉

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50 Shades of Green / Mateo Dineen


Wrong turn / Mateo Dineen

– Finally, Berlins best neighbourhood, and why?

Johan: Kreuzberg! I live in Graefekiez (Kreuzberg), which is in the middle of it all and have got my studio/gallery ”the Cheese Mountain Tragedy” right around the corner. The life here is beautiful. The canal, the Turkish market, the good and cheap restaurants, the nice people in the streets, the parks…you should come and check it out, it is amazing.

Så hittar du monstret i Berlin:

Zozoville Gallery
Mainzerstr. 12
Mån–Lör. 12:00–18:00

Onkel Zozo Gallery
Oranienstr. 195
Mån–Fre. 12:00–18:00
Lör. 12:00–19:00

The Cheese Mountain Tragedy
Johan Potmas galleri/studio
Schönleinstr. 32
Mån–Lör. from 12–6pm, oftast.

Skallywag Gallery (vid Tempelhof)
Mateo Dineens galleri/studio
Herrfurthstr. 10
Mån–Fre. 14:00–19:00
Lör–Sön. 12:00–19:00


Up and Onward / Johan Potma

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There goes the neighborhood / Johan Potma


Busta Move / Mateo Dineen