I guess the reason for [my] approach is one that deliberately harks to bygone (yet eternal) visions of love
Based in Queensland, Australia, multimedia artist, Loui Jover says, “Like all people [he] started drawing as a child, however unlike most other people [he] never stopped drawing.” This is apparent in the depth and skill of Jover’s work, where his ink renderings on connected pages of vintage rare books, bring the imagery of romance and deep female emotion to life.
Your images are usually romantic couple scenes or emotional images of female faces and forms. Sometimes you also incorporate more surreal designs into your work. What is your creative process? How do the images come to you?
The images I make are usually in a continuous series which follow a theme such as the two you have mentioned, the romantic works usually show a couple in a deliberately romanticized scenario such as an embrace in the rain or with a pushbike, I find the use of a somewhat obvious ideal of love can in itself pay homage to the very appeal of ‘romance’ as expressed in popular culture like Romeo & Juliette or the classic love story. I think we all know this is a clichéd vision yet it is one that our inner selves can yearn for. In this theme I also like to express a little mystery, there is no real story offered, just the figures in love, why they are there in that scene is anyone’s guess. I think mystery and romance are good bed fellows. The female faces are very much about the urgency of emotion and the surreal elements sometimes added to works is about experimentation and a reflection of the information saturated world we live in.
You often incorporate images of butterflies, birds, rainstorms and the moon in your art. What do these images signify?
I guess I use birds, butterflies and so forth in kind as symbols, however I do not offer a set doctrine for my works, these ‘symbols ‘are open to the interpretation of anyone looking at the works. The bird for example for me can mean hope or to represent a change, I usually use the bird to juxtapose a somber image so that it is not dragged down to a depth that is too dark and hopeless. I think the butterflies are very much the same idea, this is an incredible life form that has become obscured and made into a cliché by people yet when it is observed, the butterfly is the perfect physical metaphor for life and existence itself.
The faces and forms you create are very lifelike and have a real sense of depth to them. Do you use models for your drawings/paintings and do you sketch the images out first before you paint them or do you create them freehand?
I use all three methods you have mentioned, it depends on my mood and what it is that I want to express in ink. I will use sketches, photographs, popular media, real people, made up people and so forth. I do make sketches and work from them or often when it is a close up face showing just the eyes, nose and mouth I will just go ahead and draw right onto the paper with no reference. This is a fun way to work with ink because the act of drawing becomes an exercise in making the image work, and a balancing act. I often go too far with some of these works and have to start again.
You are a multi media artist but you use ink to create your drawings. Do you have a preference between using a paintbrush or a pen, or do both work for you in different ways?
I do use both brush and ink pen, generally I use ink pen for smaller more intimate works or detail and even for the scribbly cartoons I make. I use a variety of bamboo brushes for the larger works so that I can apply weight to the line and add ink washes to the composition. The two work in very different ways, I enjoy them both.
You connect aged pages of old books as your canvases. How did that come about? What do the pages of vintage books mean to you?
I happened upon the use of book pages in a gradual manner. In general I had a heap of old damaged books stored at my home. I had obtained these from a charity shop that was disposing of them. I liked the old covers and the feel of the good quality paper pages that had interesting foxing and patinas. One night I wanted to make an ink drawing yet I had no paper stock available so I glued a few pages together and made a small drawing, I really liked the way the paper reacted with the ink and I also liked the matrix that the text offered in the background, the actual wording means little to me that’s why I often draw on the book pages upside down. It is the grid that the words offer that I like, when the work is complete a viewer can read some of the text and come to their own conclusion as to the connection and meaning they may represent together.
Do you formulate the story you want each piece of work to tell ahead of time? If so, do you search for certain vintage books so that the stories typed in the pages will match the images you create? Or do the pages you find and decide to use help you in formulating each piece’s story?
I do not formulate any story what so ever. As an artist I do not offer explanation to the actual images that I produce I personally feel the drawing should tell its own story, any connection with the text and subject of the book pages is coincidence. I choose the pages for the paper quality not the wording. I think this is more exciting in general for me as well as the viewer. As an artist I am simply a reflector and do not want to lock the work into one meaning so each image is open to complete interpretation.
What other mediums do you use in your artwork?
Even though my work can look figurative and at times controlled, it is the feeling of discovery that drives my creativity. I like to use the ink in an expressionistic manner, after I make the initial figurative drawing I like to apply ink in a more slap dash manner and hope for the wonderful happy accident. So I am not locked into one medium as such, I will use anything to express my creative need at the point of making work. I like using ink so much because it allows for much expression and experimentation without the need to think about color too much. At times I have used oil paints, acrylic paints, household paints, water color, collage, spray cans, gouache, pencil, pen, and so on… I think anything can be used to follow ones creative impulse. I think digital art, photography and making experimental short films can also be great fun.
You also sketch cartoons, which combine humor with pragmatism… Are they based on your own life experiences and observations?
I have always scribbled cartoons. I have always made rough cartoons like this. I find they balance my other work as I can be very quick making them and can do them anywhere on any piece of scrap paper with any pencil or pen or whatever… in kind they are just moments of thought or ideas scribbled or observations or a way to exorcise unwanted thoughts…(eheh) many are not very politically correct or a little ribald. I have a lot of them laying around in an assortment of books, pads and loose. They were not meant to be shared so much but I did put a few up one time and they seemed to offer a visual pause in between other works in my folio and also show a little of my own character. Excuse the pun but they are not meant to be taken too seriously…
What are some of the most noteworthy reactions you have gotten about your art?
There have been so many odd and interesting reactions that I would find it hard to single one out. However in a general sense the reactions that are the most meaningful to me are from the younger visitors who have mentioned the works inspiration on their own creative journey. It is very rewarding to any artist to know that their work is effecting young creative minds, for let’s face it in art most new, dynamic and creative discourse comes from youth. If I can be a simple node in the development of a future artist then this is pleasing to me.
You can see more of Loui’s work on Instagram
Loui Jover was born in Europe and immigrated to Australia when he was a baby. He studied commercial art when he was a teenager. He served in the Australian army as Illustrator Reprographic and regimental photographer. He worked in the graphic arts industry for a number of years. He is now a full time artist who lives in Queensland Australia with his wife Fee and daughter Jazz. He maintains a modest studio there and continues to pursue his love of drawing and creating art.