DAVID COPPERFIELD OF BODYPAINTING
Johannes Stötter is a musician (sings, plays violin, whistle and bouzouki in the Celtic Folk band “Burning Mind“), “philosopher” graduated at University of Innsbruck in Austria and incredible, self taught fine art bodypainter that everybody should know. His art of illusion, worthy of David Copperfield itself, has been fascinating people from over the world for years. After joining the international bodypainting community in 2009 at the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria, Johannes is regurarly winning bodypainting world championships such as World Champion 2012, Vice World Champion 2011 and 2014, Italian Champion 2011 and 2013, North American Bodypainting Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, USA 2013 and “International Fine Art Bodypainting Award” 2014.
In 2013 he became world famous with his legendary creation of a tropical frog consisting of 5 human bodies, so he made headlines in the world press and was featured in newspapers, magazines and online magazines such as New York Post, New York Daily News, The Sun, The Times, The Mirror, The Guardian, Dailymail, Bild, Stern, Spiegel, Focus, Süddeutsche Zeitung, View and many more, and in TV channels like CNN, BBC, TV Globo, RAI, ZDF, Pro7, RTL, DW, ORF, ntv Japan and many more, as well as in published books “The Art of Bodypainting” (Peter de Ruiter), “Champions at Heart” (Karala B), “The Human Canvas” (Karala B) and in the Calendar “Painted Bodies” (Weingarten Verlag).
Born and based in South Tyrol (Italy) in the high Alps, cosmopolitan Stotter is strongly related to nature and, as he said to JL INTERVIEWS in the online interview in direct connection from Mexico, he has his own philosophy of work that he teaches at the WB Academy – at the WBF (World Bodypainting Festival) as well as around the world – and Anatomic Bodypainting at Yoni Academy. He works and exhibits all around the globe in collaboration with his agency WB-Production. As he added, during our quick conversation, he is still working on illusionary bodypainting and has some surprises, some new very good works which he hasn’t published yet. We are looking forward to seeing his new art.
What you are doing and what you are famous for is amazing. I’m curious how and when you discovered in you a talent for bodypainting and the performance associated with it?
I was a normal painter, I painted mainly with oil on canvas. The idea to paint on a body came suddenly, without any inspiration from outside. I had the idea already at the age of 19, but 3 more years passed before I did my first bodypainting experiment.
What is your inspiration? How long do you prepare a body painting performance?
I would say my inspiration is mainly nature, but also my personal life philosophy, my every-day-life and also people themselves, especially certain ones can inspire me to an idea.
You are a multitalented self taught grown up and based in Tyrol, North of Italy. Did the Alp mountains climate stimulate you somehow to create?
As I am very much related to nature, especially the nature around my home, I am sure that the alpine atmosphere somehow stimulated my creativity. I did a lot of nature related bodypaintings in the mountains of my home.
Your name does not sound very Italian. What are your origins? Do you feel cosmopolitan?
South Tyrol was occupied by the Italians after the first world war, before it was part of Austria. That’s why my name and my 1st language are german. Generally I would say I feel cosmopolitan.
How has philosophy, that you studied at university, influenced your whole art? Do you have your own philosophy?
Yes, of course I have my own philosophy and of course it influences my work, it is hard to say how exactly, but for example the idea that people and nature are united to each other is part of my philosophy… and I think that idea appears very clearly in my work.
With bodypainting you won many awards and numerous famous magazines published your works. Today you teach at the WBF. What do your lessons consist of?
My lessons usually consist of a theory-part, where I try to let the students encounter the art of bodypainting better, to show the different kinds of bodypainting and to explain the importance of the work… and of a practical part where the students paint on a model and I help them to learn by doing.
Which project do you consider the most important in your career and why? Are you working now on something totally new and surprising?
I think the illusion-bodypainting is the most spectacular part of my work, my first illusion work was the frog, which made me famous and opened many new doors. I am still working on the illusionary bodypainting and I have some surprises, some new very good works which I haven’t published yet.
In which countries can we see you in the next few months?
I just had 3 month of intense travel and work and now I am planning to have a bit more relaxed time, but I will try to go on with executing my ideas.
Interview by Joanna Longawa
Photos & Video by Johannes Stötter / wb-production.com & The Frog picture by Meinhard Niederstätter