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Johanna Tagada | An Interview

We happily introduce Johanna Tagada to Tappan today, introducing a series of paintings and sculptures from her series Rose et Jaune. We quickly fell in love with Johanna's practice, as she effortlessly melds her life practice and art practice into one. Bringing simplicity, love for what is nature, and what is beautiful into consideration always, Johanna's work reflects her respect and understanding of the world around her through her thoughtful application of color, form, and an array of textures. 

Read our interview with her below:

photo by Jan Stasuik


Tell us about this body of work launching on Tappan?

Paintings from the series Rose et Jaune and modular sculptures.

Rose et Jaune is a commonly rooted series of paintings and analog photographs.

The series was initiated in Summer 2015, shortly after our wedding Jatinder my husband and I, went on for a small journey in South Wales. An afternoon spent on a sandy beach, flowers, the trees, all the seasons seemed to come together. Returning to London, my paintings evolved, the organic shapes I used to communicate transformed into figures of flora. At first I did not really know what to do; keep this series of paintings a secret? Jatinder and Maureen Doherty encouraged me to present them. With time I also realised there was not - as I initially thought - opposition between my older works and this series; rather they are conversations, my abstract painting seem to be close and meditative views of flora. These recent paintings also are more confidently telling my deep attachment to nature and request for us to take care of it instead of repetitively destroying it.

The modular sculptures directly derives from my paintings and the idea of playing.

When exhibited I encourage visitors to touch them, bring them together as families, allowing the mind to rest.



photo by Ruby Woodhouse

Tell us about your process when you're creating.

Musicologist and writer Veronica Muchitsch has summed up very well when she wrote about my practice that “the notions of unity and simplicity determine both, processes of production and reception” (Imaginary Sounds, Poetic Pastel Press, 2016).

Colours, forms and textures are the languages I use through my entire practice to communicate positive feelings.

The selection of colour is a very important process, so it is this one I will talk about.

There are three important steps in my colour selection process.
First comes a patient and daily observation of nature, either in a rural / outdoor context or in a domestic environment (example looking at bouquets and potted plants at home). I capture these observations via my analog photographs.

Secondly, looking at the photos I created small collages using a part of the colours present in the images which I believe compliment each other. These collages would be defined as being abstract, they are my direct translations of feelings and colours.

At last, after putting the collages, which are references and intermediate stage colour selections, next to each other, I observe, and  create the final piece, which might be a painting, publications, textile etc.

At time the colours also directly derives from the vegetables I eat, the flowers / plants picked.


When do you make your best work?

 It is a question I can not answer.

As not thinking of the works which one is best.


Regarding your method of making, is it a case of the material or method dictating the idea of the other way around?

The feelings dictate the choices of techniques and materials.


Artist whose career you admire?

Wolfgang Laib, who was recently awarded the Praemium Imperiale.

His speech brought tears to my eyes.

Last gallery show you went to?

Thinking Tantra at The Drawing Room, London.

What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Hopefully the same, surrounded by people I admire and love.

Communicating the same message of love, respect  and compassion for nature and all living beings.

If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?

South Korea and Taiwan.

What are your other hobbies?

Reading, Gardening, Cooking, Tea, Cinema, learning languages, traveling, walking.


If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?

Tea with Wolgang Laib.

What influences you?

Nature, Love, Smiles, Rhythm, Daily Life, Tea,  Feelings, Oneness

photo by Sach Dhanjal for


What motivates you



What’s your studio philosophy?

Relax, Play, Learn.

My work is rather intimate so is my atelier.

It is soft, warm, welcoming and homely.


How many hours do you try and work in the studio per week?

I don’t count. No need to count when you love my dad says.

photo by Sach Dhanjal for


Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?


Sound : my husband Jatinder Singh Durhailay practicing (he plays Dilruba, Piano, Guitare, Taus and sings)

And for years Alice Coltrane, Haruka Nakamura, Nujabes, Christian Scott, Takagi Masakatsu, ….


Tools or mediums you’re dying to experiment with?

I would like to work with a contemporary dance company in order to create a scenery.

I have a background of contemporary dance studies and it is something I feel it is time to intertwine in a more obvious way with my current practice. Hereby I do not mean myself dancing, rather creating for / with dancers and choreographers.


What’s next?

A solo exhibition at Galerie Jean-Francois Kaiser (Strasbourg, France) opening February 2nd 2017. Titled Épistolaire Imaginaire - Merci it is the final part of the four year participative project Épistolaire Imaginaire.

A group exhibition I am curating and organising for Nidi Gallery (Tokyo, Japan) via Poetic Pastel opening March 24th 2017.

A solo exhibition curated by Elsa Melo of my series Les Plantes de Mamie at Casa das Artes (Porto, Portugal).

photo by Sach Dhanjal for


What’s the first thing you do when you begin formulating an idea for a piece?

Smile, sketch, writing in down with excitement.


What work took you the longest to complete?

Le Refuge, in term of hours maybe.

A hand sown and embroiderer cotton piece . A tent, a floating habitat.

I started working on it in late August 2016 and completed it in April 2016.

It is embroidered with a selection of the happy memories visitors of Épistolaire Imaginaire - Les Fleures du Japon  shared (Iko Iko Space, 2015, curated by Book Stand / Claire Cottrell).

Best gift you’ve ever received?



Describe your work in 3 words.





What's one thing you still have from your childhood?

My milk tooth in a tiny wooden box.

Do you have a favorite quote, or a phrase you think about often?

“ Si tu tombes relèves toi tout seul.”

Carved in a small piece wood at my grand mother home.

Have the cities you’ve lived in influenced your practice? If so, tell us a bit about that, and what elements in particular steered you in certain directions.

I believe everything leaves a mark, sometimes big others nearly inexistent. The marks, or influences as your referred to, are there.

Zürich perhaps taught me to keep practicing the discipline learned in dance. Berlin I’m not so sure. London encourages my interdisciplinary practice.

The most important lessons and influences are not being taught to me not by cities but by villages, by rural lives in close contact wit nature, by Nature I mean people, fauna and flora.


What country do you wish to visit?




What makes you nervous?


photo by Jan Stasuik


What makes you laugh no matter what?

Jatinder and my grand mother ’s laugh.


What is one artist living or dead you feel a great connection to? Someone whose work has inspired your own practice and what you’re creating these days?

Jurgen Lehl


What’s one habit you wish you could break?

Forgetting to wear my glasses.

Who was your favorite teacher in school?

Yann Beauvais . A cineast and critic. Each week when in the Beaux Arts I was looking forward to his class.

He encouraged and supported my curiosity and recommended me several publications that gave a new perspective to my thoughts.

photo by Sach Dhanjal for


Explore Johanna's paintings and sculptures on her artist page.