The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland, Duck Town are all micro-cosmoses symbolising the world in a primary and absolute way. Artist Johan Peter Hol represents his world in closets, attics and boxes full of furry animals, armies of mice and disquieting drawings. Like a dusty playroom full of abandoned toys, his work creates a – sometimes - slightly grizzly fairy tale.
Hol uses animals and objects like icons, creating a highly animated, naturalistic and yet at the same time a metaphysical environment. His imaginary world is full of embalmed squirrels with Mickey-mouse heads, armies made out of little porcelain half mouse - half man figurines, dogs with working light bulbs on their heads, plants like enchanted creatures, paper cut outs of human and not so human heads combined with images of cosy teacups and ferocious animals, closets filled with shimmering planets and gloves, glowing fire flies and houses and transparent almost fluid glass underwater life forms. All these elements are part of an alphabet of an intimate and personal language.
The artist uses embalmed animals to represent humanities desire to control and manipulate every aspect of our environment. We domesticate and dominate. This is further underlined by the use of Disney hats –literally Disney-fying the animals- moulding them into our own image; humanising them. The viewer is shown bittersweet drawings based on surrounding objects or randomly picked movie titles. Alternatively, Hol enchants us with an army of mice-men loosely inspired by the Chinese terra cotta army. Yet another piece is the ‘Oh, Make Me Over’ project. An array of red glass cosmetic jars that glow in the dark and with silver Mickey Mouse eared lids, depicting the underlying tension between day-to-day and bigger life issues such as self improvement and the fear of death.
At first glance Hol's work is alluring, seductive, playful and cheerful with an often childlike choice of material (clay, felt, paper) and colours (black and whites, gold, reds, pinks and blues). But below the surface however, Hol's work is haunted by deeper, more profound notions. It reads like an inner portrait that opens up to the outside world, self reflective and intimate, centring upon being an individual in a group. The human paradox of wanting to be different from the rest but at the same time, experiencing a deep longing to be part of a group, to be a social animal. About being trapped in this paradoxical contradiction. The artist gives shape – with an almost naive innocence - to this fundamental human question. Balancing the tension between the notion of the hyper individual and society, Hol confronts the outside world with intimacy.
With his charm, wit and beauty, the artist lures us first into taking a closer and more personal look at ourselves. Giving us time to reflect before plunging us deeper. Going beyond the self and progressing into broader issues that retain a humorous, yet spooky and sometimes more culturally ominous edge. His work is underpinned by loneliness and a constant struggle with the surrounding world; questioning it in a silent but distinct way.
What makes it even more interesting is that the work often revolves around technology. But instead of the use of high tech materials and techniques, Hol's work is depicted very simply, sometimes even with a treacherous DIY touch. This encapsulates another of Hol's ideologies, that no matter what feats of technology we strive to achieve, we are still unable to conquer our greatest challenge and fear; death … and the ever elusive immortality.
Hol touches a range of themes in his work which are not only personal but rather a way to bring the fundamental, the great, and the unexplainable closer together. By making it – not only in technique and material - touchable and huggable, he puts a spell on it and makes life altogether less fearsome.

‘My work is not the book of Truth, neither the book of Light, it's a play room went wrong, forgotten by its creator. A place ajar where all its confused inhabitants strive for survival in a silent way’.
Jp Hol, 2004