Jordan Marani is a Melbourne-based artist celebrated for his intriguing interplay between humor and morbidity, often delivered through vibrant and compelling visual narratives. Marani’s artwork uniquely combines text and image, exploring themes of human folly, vice, and the absurdity of existence with a deeply personal and often darkly humorous touch. His style is known for its bold, graphic qualities, drawing viewers into a world where the comical and tragic coexist seamlessly. This distinct approach has made Marani a notable figure in the contemporary art scene, particularly within the vibrant Melbourne underground movement, where his works continue to resonate and provoke thought.

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What is something that I would be surprised to find in your space?
Maybe that would be my electric guitars and amps. I was in a couple of ‘bands’ as a youngster. I’m a five chords hack. I often get to my studio in the evening and bash away on my old Maton Fyrbyrd, a pawn shop purchase from the late 80s, and play it through a 5 watt Marshall tube amp I bought at a garage sale. It’s good for clearing my head and annoying the neighbours.

Describe your ideal workspace in three words.
Big, light, private.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
‘Use a bigger brush’ — Robert Jacks.

Where did you find the courage to follow your own path?
I lost my mother when I was nineteen in tragic circumstances. She was a frustrated creative spirit trapped in the conservative suburbs of Melbourne. Around that time I was attempting to study at university in fields I had no passion for. I was feeling like a square peg and I didn’t want to end up like mum — a frustrated spirit. I decided to pursue my creative side. My father was disappointed, knowing it was an unstable choice, but I stuck with it. Everything else seemed ultimately meaningless.

What is the most productive practical tip you could impart to a fellow creative?
Work on lots of things at once. It’s counter to others’ advice to focus, but I find if one thing isn’t working, having another on the go can help.

What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Listen to your dad — he always said, “everything in moderation”. As much as I love ‘nothing exceeds like excess’ in my art practice, don’t extend that to your lifestyle. And do things now, now is the best time.

What do you do to centre yourself and find focus?
I used to have a solid pushbike ride of about an hour along the Yarra River path when I lived near it. Now I live near a cemetery and football oval. I take our dog, Ian Curtis, for a 30-minute or so walk at daybreak and after dinner, through the cemetery or around the oval. The rhythm of bike riding and walking is good for clearing the mind and calming the soul.

Does the space you work in have an interesting story?
Four artists who shared a studio together formed a collective and bought an old suit makers double story factory about 25 years ago. It’s a great example of how collectivity can be a support in your art career. Those artists all have stable working spaces, own a share in some great Brunswick real estate, and rent out studios too (including to me!). It’s ramshackle and friendly.

I was very and am very dyslexic, and had ADD as a child, did you have any learning difficulties as a child, ADD, Dyslexic or are you still dealing with something. How did you manage or cope, how did you push through?
I lacked confidence when I was a kid, I wasn’t good at sport and mucked up a bit. I used humour and mimicry to get by, I drew caricatures of classmates and teachers. This helped me with friendships and probably steered me, eventually, toward being an artist.

What are you most proud of in the space?
That I manage to fit all my old artwork and bits and pieces in a semblance of order and still have enough room to make my work, and a mess while I’m doing it.

How would you describe your neighbourhood?
It’s kinda post-light-industrial with a diverse cultural identity. There’s lots of good old fashioned eating and shopping, with new eateries popping up in old factory spaces. There’s a hip baker across the road where people queue up for bread like it’s Soviet Russia. Brunswick is gentrifying a lot, there are still artist studios here but it’s a lot more bougie these days.

What can you see outside your windows?
I see the back of the local shopping strip, looking directly at an upstairs dwelling which reminds me a lot of where I grew up, above our parents’ shop in an industrial area in the outer suburbs.

What is your dream project?
Pretty much anything with travel.

Favourite song/band while working?
I like the randomness of a good radio station, and music played loud while I’m working. If I have to pick one thing I’ll say The Cure’s ‘Faith’ album as I can time travel back to when I bought the album and saw them as an underage high school student. I have a strong personal narrative with that album connecting me to more innocent times.

What is your most important artist’s tool?
Paint brushes. Just about everything I do ends up with a bit of paint or glaze applied with a brush.

The one practice that has changed your life the most?
Maybe cooking. I’ve always eaten home cooked meals and try to make them kinda healthyish, lots of fresh veg etc. I used to have lots of excessive fun and always believed that you need to maintain a semblance of balance through eating well and shopping at markets.

How has a stranger changed your life?
A very large shyster once coaxed me into a lane in Bangkok to read my future. He had some terrific fortune tellers tricks, he told me my mum and dad’s names (and they’re very unusual names) and also told me I would live to 96 and that I didn’t need to worry about too much — I scoffed at that (I had a hard living lifestyle at the time). He also wanted $USD500 for his prophecy!! I managed to run away from that demand, but he did plant a seed of longevity into my thinking.

Category : Paul Barbera