A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist – An Interview With Artist Jonny Hurts

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A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist

Johnny Hurts (b 1988) grew up in the little Norwegian municipality Brumunddal, son of an Argentinian mother and a Norwegian father. He tells us that he was given a lot of freedom and was a clever school child but noticed early that he was more interested in his own projects than listening to his teachers. This is the story of a Norwegian’s journey from professional snowboarder to visual artist – an interview with artist Jonny Hurts.

He has always been fascinated by his background; how his mother, son of the legendary football player René Orlando Houseman, nicknamed Loco, arrived in Brumunddal and met his father, an electrician and a ski enthusiast.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
Jonny Hurts has always been fascinated by his background.

“I was not born by coincidence,” he often said to himself. “I am meant to be something.”

He always wanted to be free to pursue adventure and found snowboarding, freeriding at his leisure in any mountain terrain, was his true self.  Like his father he studied to be an electrician, but the pursuit of riding massive peaks attracted him more, and slowly he mastered the art so well that he traveled to the USA during winters to perform professionally. He even performed in films and became friends with other creative personalities.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
From the exhibition “Once Upon a Time” at Fine Arts, Oslo

He met Nicolai Gyllenhammar and together they formed the art duo Broslo, describing themselves as “creators of unique art – we know what you want”. They are both self-taught, which means that neither of them has an official art education. However, Gyllenhammar has a master’s degree in architecture and runs his own architectural office. Before his architecture education, he studied vocational subjects, and took a certificate as a car mechanic.

Related: Portraits of Four Contemporary Norwegian Portrait Painters

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
Jonny Hurts is self-taught, which means that he doesn’t have an official art education.

Broslo created their own artistic collective universe, at the old airport of Oslo, Fornebu, and called it “Californebu”. They lived out their dreams through art and never looked back. For the Norwegian television company TV2 they produced a series which ran for almost two years, showcasing their world of art and music.

“You find much of my history in this television program,” says Jonny Hurts.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist, read on.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
“I didn’t know anything about art history, art distribution or techniques,” says Jonny.

In the series, viewers could follow the ups and downs when Nikko and Jonny were about to make Broslo’s biggest show so far in their careers in a difficult time. But as usual when the guys started something, they did not save on gunpowder. The ambitions were sky high, time and the corona were a challenge, in addition to the many other balls they simultaneously had in the air.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
Sculpture by Jonny Hurts

“Together with Nikolai I made my first picture,” says Jonny. “We bought an abandoned ski stick factory in Lillehammer with the intention of redecorating it,” he adds. “It turned out not to be what you might expect from a renovation object. We worked there during the weekends and made special furniture, used design elements and transformed the old factory to something very special.”

They filled the walls with “things” without any knowledge of art. “I didn’t know anything about art history, art distribution or techniques,” says Jonny. He decided he had no time for a family, he just wanted to create, create something that would last – longer than himself.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
Jonny decided he had no time for a family, he just wanted to create, create something that would last – longer than himself.

“People want more than white walls and an ordinary kitchen,” he says. “We made furniture and visual art objects, and after six years, a guy came on visit one day and was over enthusiastic.” They sold the transformed building at a reasonable profit.

In 2014,
he started to produce 20 big art objects in his studio at Fornebu for an art exhibition initiative by art dealer Katinka Traaseth. She asked if the duo would like to take part in a popup exhibition in central Oslo. The duo was offered a corner in the 1.300 sq. meters premises. Howeevr, they refused by saying “all or nothing at all”. Reluctantly, Traaseth accepted and the duo created the works for the exhibition in the course of five months. The exhibition “False Diamonds” was a huge success.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
In 2014, he started to produce 20 big art objects in his studio at Fornebu

During the opening party, many felt that they had ended up at a club in New York for a moment, with DJs, shows and colorful slush drinks at the bar. While young and old mingled, artwork was sold at record speed. – It was completely incredible. “I have never experienced anything like this in Oslo. There were 1000 people at the opening. People did not have time to think before the works were sold, and the red patches flew between the walls,” said Katinka Traaseth in an interview.

Related: International Breakthrough for Norwegian Painter

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
“I have a more honest relation to art now than before.,” says Jonny Hurts

“From that time, I have had one big project every year in addition to smaller ones,” says Jonny. “I still work together with Nikolai from time to time, but now I’ve more or less gone solo. I have a more honest relation to art now than before. I express my own feelings, and so it’s difficult to be two.”

At the exhibition “Once Upon A Time” at Fine Arts in the heart of Oslo earlier this year, he followed in the footsteps of Damien Hirst, Peter Blake, Pushwagner and David Yarrow, covering 20 000 sq. ft with around 150 artworks including holograms, paintings, drawings, sculptures and carpets.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
Jonny Hurts by his sculpture at Aker Brygge.

“It’s much about the child in me taking over the creative process,” he says. “To me it’s important not ‘to grow up’ in my head, to be playful, in the search of impossible techniques – like a child. It’s a lot of nostalgia. Technically, it’s not difficult, but it has been a challenge but a I was in a playful mood.”

Creating is what intrigues him. He loves to evoke people’s emotions. “Young people understand me,” he explains. “If you want something strong enough, you succeed. I do many artworks at the same time. I have a lot in my head simultaneously. The idea and thoughts are there before I start materializing anything. I think one of my strengths is to conduct many processes at the same time, a lot of contrasts that need to be followed up. Done in the right order everything get right in the end.”

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
Carpet by Jonny Hurts

Related: Young Norwegian Painter With International Ambitions

He adds that some artworks are finalized in a couple of hours while others take several weeks. When asked what his future plans are, he answers, “I will continue to do what I do now until I die. The most important thing is that I’m not standing still. I want to inspire people, be more aware of how I treat people. At the moment, I have few responsibilities to Norway. Norway is a small country, and I want to reach out to the world, meet people, find my very special way of expressing myself and hopefully deserve a place in art history.”

He explains that he, In the digital world, can develop works over time and they become better and better and better. Physical works are more difficult since it’s not easy to correct mistakes.

“I like to combine classical works with modern art. The great artists expressed themselves with their contemporaries. Now, I can do the same in a ‘travel in time’. No classical artist can match what I do today. I try to master most art techniques as best I can and give it my very own expression. Without formal art education I feel free. I like fashion, jewelry and digital art. There are no boundaries.”

His role models are, not surprisingly, Edvard Munch and Gustav Vigeland. “Both managed to fulfill their projects and use the resources around them – with style. Munch worked all his life for art without being disturbed artistically. He refused to be a father in the name of art. He was good at measuring the time he lived in and stretching boundaries. Also, Picasso developed and mastered many techniques and art eras to create his own expression throughout his life, more playful than most of his contemporaries.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist
“Art moves in cycles and I think our present time has been an important cycle in breaking certain taboos.,” says Jonny Hurts

“What is contemporary art to you?”

“Art moves in cycles and I think our present time has been an important cycle in breaking certain taboos. If you don’t meet the critics expectations, you might please someone else. You always have to bring something new to the creation,” he concludes.

A Norwegian’s Journey From Professional Snowboarder to Visual Artist, artist Jonny Hurts interviewed by Tor Kjolberg.

Feature image (on top): Paint brushes, by Jonny Hurts.

All images © Daily Scandinavian – Tor Kjolberg.

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.

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