Jan Tholin was born and raised in Halmstad, Sweden.
He has lived in Denmark since 1996 and has since 2017 resided in the neighborhood of Østerbro in Copenhagen. He is an autodidact and started painting in 2002. His studio is located at: Nordre Fasanvej 150-152, 2000 Frederiksberg.
“When describing an artist like Jan Tholin, whose art is completely abstract, one clearly can’t use the normal frames of reference from the surrounding, physical reality. Instead, one must try – to the best of one’s ability – to explain the dynamics and color composition of the paintings. Are they calming and harmonic or violent and expressive? Is there a sense of inspiration from the natural world or are they geometrically abstract through and through?
In the case of Jan Tholin, one can’t help but notice one thing: the strong and forceful compositions. Most often the paintings are built around a central axis in the form of powerful vertical and horizontal lines, which can be reminiscent of a torso with outstretched arms. Sometimes the shape is centered in the middle of the composition like a massive house. More frequently, however, the most striking characteristic is the broad horizontal strokes that connect the painting’s left and right side, locking it in a vice-like grip.
It is not soothing lyrical tones that flow from these paintings. They are more like sagas. Harsh, unsentimental tales about an iron-willed natural world in which we humans must learn to conform, or conveyers of strong, resonating emotions. This demonstrates an artistic temperament, which does not settle, but instead gives itself fully.
It isn’t that Jan Tholin paintings lack sensibility. Simply it’s a different type of sensibility, one filled with grit. A sensibility akin to a Nordic mountain. The colors play an important part in this context. We see dark-toned colors – Nordic winter colors. The twilight-gray sky, the brown of naked tree trunks, black puddles full of rotting leaves and snow in different nuances of white, dependent on frost and thaw. All this illuminated by glistening red and yellow berries, the pink of dusk or the icy blue of a clear and cloudless winter sky.
Though Jan Tholin’s paintings are often powerful and rigid, he manages to create variation by introducing areas of pause. Quiet counters, that work as shelters in the midst the ongoing power demonstration. By allowing color to be a driving factor he can achieve an element of lightness and unpredictability in his compositions. Like a stream that ripples through the mountains or like rain that softly blurs the perspective.
Jan Tholin is an artist, with whom, it has been a pleasure to make acquaintance.”
Art Gallery Malaka Spice, Pune, India 2007
Ram-Tajm, Halmstad, Sweden 2009
Exhibitions in the danish industry:
Netman, Tieto, PFA, AP Pension, Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, Danmarks Almene Boliger, J. Lauritzen, KAB-bolig, Argo Roskilde, NJORD Law Firm, CBS, Unilabs, FOSS Hillerød, Sct. Kjelds Gårds Kunstforening
Hello Jan! You are creating art full-time for only 3 years, and before that, you’ve had a long career of being a tennis coach. What inspired you to make this transition? And I must say it looks quite successful.
Jan: I´m really pleased to hear that! It´s been a gradual transition I would say. The interest in modern art, in particular abstract, nonfigurative one, has as long as I can remember attracted me. But actually going from just being a viewer of art to take up painting myself, has been a process for over 20 years. So with no formal education, it is encouragement from family and art-loving friends that have inspired me to take it further than just a hobby.
Danish art historian, art critic, and editor of the art magazine Kunstavisen, Mr. Tom Jørgensen has written a piece great about your art. And the part where he says “We see dark-toned colors – Nordic winter colors is really interesting. Could you tell me more about where your inspiration comes from and is there a message you are trying to send with each piece?
Jan: To be honest, I wasn´t aware of that and had not made me any thoughts in that direction before Mr. Jørgensen came up with that angle. Dark-toned colors are kind of a “state of mind” in the Nordic countries, meaning that not only you live with only a few hours of light during a day for a big part of the year, it also in different ways reflect your moods. The Swedish word “vemod” (melancholy), a more or less national feature, sums up the winter-colored darkness, that often – but not always – can be seen in my paintings.
How do you see the inspiration for your work growing and changing?
Jan: At the moment, is on a technical level. I feel I still have so much to learn how to mix the acrylics on the canvas and the use of different tools (brushes, painting knives, etc.). You could call it basic stuff, but I still get inspired (and sometimes baffled) over how even small, tiny things drastically can change the result and hence, give me new ideas, new ways to get forward. I hope that will go on forever!
What is your daily routine when working? And can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Jan: I usually work in my shared studio between 9 and 5 and – if possible – keep weekends free for family and friends. The pandemic has of course changed things a lot, so the last couple of months I have worked from home. It´s not ideal, but it is a very, very small price to pay under the circumstances. Regarding the work process, I always start with putting 3-4 layers with different colors on the canvas, and by doing that randomly, I can get the creating process going from what the layers are sort of “telling” me to do. The canvas is literally and figuratively speaking blank when I start. So the information the layers of paint are giving me, helps the process coming further. Unfortunately it doesn´t work as often as it should, so it´s always a bit of a struggle to get a painting over the line!
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Jan: I have a tendency to focus too much on details too early in the process, and that can really block creativity! So for me, trying to have a bigger picture in mind as long as possible into the process is paramount.
What are some of the tools you use to create a distinct style of artwork?
Jan: I like to work with painting knives and rubber or silicone spatulas. It´s only in the closing stages of the process I use brushes and sometimes charcoal.
What are some of the stories behind your work?
Jan: The way I create, starting from nothing, means that there are no stories to tell. Not that I am aware of anyway. I don´t put anything of my daily life into my art or try to make any statements. Moods and colors are the driving forces in the art-making process.
What is the most recent piece you’ve enjoyed working on the most?
Jan: Well, it´s always great fun when you feel that a piece you have been working on for a long time finally comes to rest and there is nothing more you can do or should do. At the moment I am working on a series of three smaller pieces. Normally I don´t do series, so I am excited about what will come out of it!
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Jan: The pandemic has put a lot of things on hold, so besides a couple of commissions and an Art Fair in Copenhagen in October, there isn´t much at the moment. Hopefully, things will change during the forthcoming spring and summer!
To learn more about Jan and his art, please check: