Johan Deckmann's First Editions Exhibit Brings Social Media's Satirical Commentary on Millennial Existentialism to Art World

by Sonum Kahlon

According to CNN and Gallup, recent college graduates are expected to make four job changes--an unprecedented amount--during their first decade out of college. For those of us grappling with the struggle of high expectations and piling bills while also not letting go of our dreams, it’s Copenhagen-based artist Johan Deckmann that offers us respite. He makes light of these pressing issues in a way that makes us feel like we aren’t alone as a waiter-actor or barista by day, aspiring entrepreneur by night and gives us a laugh while he’s at it.

Deckmann is also one of these multiple-hat wearing millennials. He’s a practicing psychotherapist, author and artist. His private practice is located next door to his art studio WHERE. His most popular work consists of books sourced from antique shops and thrift stores as canvases for his creations. He paints satirical, self-deprecating yet introspective and insightful statements on the covers. Some of these statements include: “How to gain instant success by lowering your standards” and “How to stay silent so others can stay comfortable.”

Deckmann’s work is particularly relevant during this era of absurdist humor on social media. Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are inundated with existentially nihilistic memes.

His work gives us a sort of commentary on the disillusionment of our generation during this time of high-unemployment and tumultuous politics, particularly in America.

We see statements like, “How to avoid ever giving your heart to anyone in fear that it would break” etched on the covers of these vintage books and chuckle at the relevancy. Deckmann’s work brings together ideas that millennials can relate to—for example, questionable “dating” tactics such as hiding behind left and right swipes on a handheld device.

His exhibit, First Editions, which opened at the top of November at 57w57arts in New York City is his United States debut. It's on view through December 15th. Deckmann's pieces will also be featured at Unspeakable Projects, also in Manhattan, in early 2018.

Written by: Sonum Kahlon