From childhood to sisterhood, and from womanhood to motherhood, Jana Brike’s paintings are an ode to life, celebrating the lightness and darkness in equal measure. These are paths through which she has walked herself, and continues to explore. In 2022 Sabrina Roman from the online magazine Metal interviewed Jana. You can read the whole piece here; we have chosen some of the most interesting questions and responses.

Which elements of your own journey do you hope to weave into your art?

All the meaningful human experiences that I know on an intimate level – love, womanhood, sisterhood, motherhood, coming to terms with pain and hurt and mortality, also certain spiritual understandings. The process is strangely metaphysical, a deeper grounding of my heart and soul into the physicality of life, and transcending suffering through understanding and acceptance of my experiences.

In your work, the natural world is omnipresent, from water and butterflies to birds and flowers. What does this symbolism mean to you, and to how your work is perceived by the observer?

I do love to give my heroines a very natural environment. I spent the best part of my childhood in woods and meadows in the countryside, even now I it’s where I feel most in harmony with myself. It gives me space for reflection, and it is always so beautiful. I don’t strive for straightforward communication through my paintings; I find it way more captivating if the meanings are open, complex and multi-layered.  I see nature as it relates to human emotions and states. Violent seas and majestic clouds, warm summer sunshine and cool magical moonlight, forests to get lost in and misty swamps, overgrown plants – my viewers can all make their own connections.

You talk about ‘bittersweetness’ and the ‘dance of transcendence’, the process of transformation of the dark and heavy parts of our lives into lightness and joy. How much do you look to your own experiences of triumphing over adversity for inspiration?

We don’t live in a society where pouring your heart and soul into something will always bring rewards. There is heartbreak and pain for everyone at some point – sometimes your small but immeasurably important triumph is getting out of bed that day, and that’s an inspiration too. Painting is a way for me to process so many things, from physical sensations to strong emotions, pain and pleasure alike. For me this dance of transcendence isn’t just the artistic creation process, but also the dance of my life.

The naked female figure is a key element in much of your work, and you have spoken of these figures as being representative of ‘subjective, inherent, feminine sexuality’. Can you say more about this?

The vast majority of professional artists in art history have been male, so the place from which the female body, with her thoughts and feelings as been from a male point of view. Women tend to have been objects displayed for desire, judgement or examination, external, out there, but not a personal, intimate, subjective statement. I am happy to live in a time where female artists are changing that, where they are their own subject matter, owning their narrative and telling their own story through their own art. I want to tell how I feel my experience, including my sexuality, from my own subjective intimate viewpoint, owning it, personalising it, with all its discomfort and beauty, vulnerability and strength, pain and pleasure, light and darkness.