Giancarlo Scrofani, perhaps better known as Janka Creator, is a multi-disciplinary artist who explores the depths of femininity through his signature style of edgy glamour. Best known for his ball jointed dolls and darkly alluring paintings, Janka Creator merges vintage beauty with popular icons and his own personal designs and avant-garde fashion. His works speak to me of celebration: celebration of freedom, opulence and sexuality – but not without keeping an element of grace.
“I have always been attracted to the style of old Hollywood; I’m a true fan of old school films, both American and Italian. The divas, they are my torment!” Janka laughs. “I like their refined image which seems subdued but, in reality, has a very strong power – a true example of Girl Power.”
The fearless feminine
It is this female power aesthetic which overarches his designs. Boldly, his painted females stare at you without any fear in their eyes; they own this moment as you lock gaze with them, even as they stare at you naked and bare. His dolls are just as fearless. The poses and artistic storytelling shared through the photographs he takes make his dolls seem almost alive, enjoying their moments behind the lens.
Yet they are even more than this. Each creation is an extension of Janka Creator himself:
“My art, it’s like a mirror.” Janka states. “Each of us, in front of a mirror has a very personal vision. There are those who see themselves ugly, those who notice defects – and those who instead see themselves as very beautiful and appreciate themselves. This vision [can be] completely different from those who look at us; each of us transmits his own experience and culture onto his image. With my works of art, I do what I do every day in the mirror; I reflect entirely myself, my frailties, my sexuality, my culture, my religion… everything that communicates my being. Perhaps a painting of mine or one of my dolls can tell more about me than my words, in an extremely honest way!
“I am 45 years old, I have silver hair and a beard, but those who know me and look at my divas usually exclaim, ‘She looks like you!’” Janka laughs. “And there, I think, I did a good job, I put all of myself into my work of art.”
Subsequently came the FEMINA doll, a project which marked an evolution in Janka Creator’s design process. Sculpted by Janka, the doll existed somewhere between fetish, art and burlesque. Even more so, the FEMINA project progressed into a full story; soon enough the FEMINA project included two paintings, two short films (the first (below) was winner of the Showroom Award at the 2018 Berlin Fashion Film Festival), with fashion outfits designed and created especially for the doll’s body, and even music created by Janka himself.
As with all of Janka Creator’s dolls, FEMINA was one of a kind. Modelled from stone clay, FEMINA was then cloned in white cream-coloured resin before being hand painted. Every detail, from eyes to wigs, was designed and applied by Janka.
“FEMINA is my doll, but defining it only as a doll is an understatement. I could compare it to a daughter, to a being created by my hands: a sort of Frankenstein monster, a Golem, a part of me… with FEMINA I made many dreams, important collaborations and music.”
Then, in 2018, Janka’s journey took a new and exciting turn:
“Last year I had the opportunity to collaborate with Aaron Henrikson (MADONNA’s official make-up artist) on the [latest] styling of my bjd art doll, FEMINA. I asked Aaron to decide what he wanted to do in full creative freedom. He said to me, ‘I would like to make a half-scarified body, the other half wearing a leather dress’. I was enthusiastic about the idea and so we created the #5 FEMINA doll by Aaron Henrikson.”
This latest step in the FEMINA project opened Janka Creator’s eyes to new avenues – something a little darker, more macabre, while still holding onto the elegance which he prizes so highly. While his creative imagination had always been inspired by the likes of Marylin Monroe, Janka wanted to take a step beyond glamour:
“I wanted to dress my divas, stripping them from the skin, [but] I had the fear that everything would be too horrifying and the wrong message would reach the public.
The idea of colouring the muscular anatomy blue totally lowered the bloodiest tones of red (blood) and helped me to create something more original.”
And thus, the ANATOMICA series was born. Even without their skin, Janka’s ladies still manage to exude more charisma than I can muster at the best of times. However, perhaps most interestingly the biggest challenge Janka had to overcome was that within himself. Looking for a way to express himself more sincerely than his previous projects, he had to take a step back – and he found himself exploring the old drawings and comics that he had made when he was young.
The Fantasy Fire
“As a teenager I loved drawing Manga comics. I also wrote stories for my characters, I had a world of my own, a world that I neglected growing up, taken from me by work in fashion and from “adult” things… I wanted to travel through time, rediscovering my personal style in drawing. A little comic, a little surreal, I found myself [facing] a part of me [that had been] dormant.
It was nice to awaken that fantasy fire; now I feel ready to tell you all about myself with my paintings.”
Wild, dazzling and bordering on subversive, Janka Creator’s ANATOMICA series pushed his paintings to new limits. Furthermore, these limits weren’t just in visual capacity alone. Though he had studied anatomy at art school, the technicalities were foggy within the depths of his memories. So he dusted off his old books, and spent hours researching to gain a better understanding of human and animal anatomy. “I reveal that I am lucky,” Janka shares, “because my boyfriend is a doctor, so our home library is full of books and literary handouts on the subject of human anatomy. I’m in love with ancient books, where the illustrations are true masterpieces.”
New horizons: the ANATOMICA solo exhibition
In addition to re-learning anatomy, Janka’s journey had led him to look for new techniques more akin to his tastes. “I’m discovering how the oil technique is more brilliant and full-bodied than acrylic colours, but I am an artist who likes to experiment, and I love mixing various techniques.” He muses. “Creating ANATOMICA put me to the test within myself. Beyond that, I also challenged myself on painting techniques, looking for a personal style. I will always look for new ways to express my creativity at best, I promise!”
Subsequently, to celebrate the new ANATOMICA series Janka Creator will be exhibiting the paintings in a special solo exhibition. He plans it to take place in his hometown of Turin, Northern Italy. Though he is still coy with me about sharing the exact place and dates just yet, Janka promises the show will be one of anatomical reverie. “I would like to involve some artists who, unlike painting, use the anatomical theme with other art techniques.” Janka shares with a grin. To keep up to date on Janka’s upcoming solo show and other projects, be sure to follow his social media channels!