Johan Deckmann is a Copenhagen-based artist, practicing psychotherapist and author, whose works examine the complications of life through witty one-liners painted on the covers of fictional “self-help” books. These book titles, though often filled with scathing satire and humour, tackle life’s biggest questions, fears, and absurdities.
Recognizing the power of language in both therapy and art, Deckmann successfully forms simple phrases that compress information, feelings or fantasies into an essence, and a truth that has an effect that is very similar to therapy. “The right words can be like good medicine,” Deckmann shares.
One of the most powerful aspects of Deckmann’s works is that every reader can relate to at least one them on a highly personal level, regardless of their cultural background, gender or age group. Titles such as How to disappoint and just keep disappointing – Disappointment made easy can resonate with anyone, but instead of remaining sinister, the work is made humorous by using the same language that you might find on a cookbook or instruction kit. How to burn out instead of fade away might be most fitting for people that live in big cities under pressure, and, perhaps: How to keep doing the same old mistakes and expect a different result could be considered the most universally human of all one-liners.
Some titles serve as a beautiful visualization of unobtainable wishes, such as a book titled All the dreams that you forgot, sparking a number of ideas and inspirations within each individual viewer that are much more valuable than any content these books could contain:
I simply believe in the power of honesty. I am not judgmental in my works. I simply aim to reflect the individual person or human behaviour as a whole. My works are somehow a portrait of human failure and self-sabotage – but my underlying motive is to motivate change.
Johan Deckmann works such as How to prevent a broken heart by not falling in love and How to solve problems by escaping into your own little world were featured in Rhodes Contemporary Art’s show ‘PAPER|WORK’ in 2021.
If you enjoy the Self-Help Books series by Deckmann you might also like the colourful type-led compositions of Ces McCully, whose messages within the canvases often express confession and secret thoughts, giving expression to our ‘shadow-selves’, challenging the false face of our online personas.