Swedish artist Joakim Ojanen has created an entire universe packed with a diverse army of endearingly gloomy characters. His own Les Misérables, if you will. Over the past couple of years, these oddballs and their pet companions, sculpted in ceramic and painted in oils, quietly enjoy a pensive sadness while keeping their native cool. The life of these mavericks isn't an exciting one, but they are content—they hang out alone or in squads, occasionally read a book, draw, play, or have a cheeky beer or cigarette. So mundane, yet so lovable, they are cheery monuments to melancholy and its quirky beauty.
Sasha Bogojev: Why are ceramics your weapon of choice, and did you work with them from the start?
Joakim Ojanen: I actually started out studying illustration, mostly drawing and doing silkscreens, stuff like that. During second year, a friend and I were trying to find a hobby, so we went to this ceramics studio that was open to everyone, and we just started to play around. At first we made vases and stuff, but slowly the drawings I was doing at the time ended up in ceramic form, which was the base for my first small characters.