Skip to content
added to favourites
removed from favourites
Oops! Something went wrong. Try again
Your account is being created
Your account has been successfully created and you are now logged in
You are logged out.

Master of the unseen

He likes animals and nature; Loves painting and playing violin. For a long time, Johannes Stötter wasn’t sure how to unite his talents and passions. Maybe you’ve felt the same way at times?

Curious: That’s how I’d describe my state of mind the first time I saw a video about Johannes Stötter. At first, I could hardly believe my eyes. No matter which of his videos I watched, one of a chameleon, a wolf or a fish, images that started out seemingly motionless soon dissolved into various different colourfully painted human bodies. How does Johannes manage to achieve such fantastic transformations, creating beautiful images of nature using the human body as a canvas?

“You have to look closely, then you’ll see what makes my works of art so special,” Johannes tells me a day later as we set out in the Ridnauntal valley, his home and source of inspiration for new ideas.

At first there was music

Johannes’ first passion was for music, notes and tones. For a long time, he was unsure what to do with it. I’d describe music as a puzzle piece in his life’s journey. He grew up in a family of musicians with three brothers and a sister and during his studies he played violin in a band. Studying was a must. But in his heart he wanted to be a musician or a successful artist. “I don’t want people to look at my work and nod and never think about it again,” he explains. Yet becoming famous through his art was a difficult road; that is until he discovered a new kind of art via music. It was love at first brush stroke.

Naked canvas

A CD cover changed Johannes’ art and life significantly. 22 at the time, Johannes helped a friend’s band to realise an idea that he’d had in his head for many years. He painted the CD cover for their album. So as usual he started out with paint and a brush. But this time, instead of a canvas he used the naked bodies of the band members. He began to paint until their bodies became one with the background. He was satisfied with the result: it was another puzzle piece in his life.

Nature plays a starring role

“It always seemed to me that bodies were able to disappear within their environment. My goal was to make them disappear altogether," he says, explaining his desire to try out camouflage body painting for himself. Now, I’m sitting in the middle of the grass on a mountain lake, just a few metres from Johannes as I watch him and the naked model before us. The model stands before him shivering. There is a chill in the air. On the other side of the lake there is snow. The wind blows through my jumper and casts Johannes’ hair about in spite of his white hairband. His paint and brushes are at his side. The painting will have to go quickly. He moves about the model, a brush stroke over her breast, stepping back, then stroke for stroke the model seems to disappear into the environment. As he told me, nature is his passion.

The development process

Their paws, special kinds of fur, muscle fibres – even as a child Johannes took note of every detail of every animal. Animals have always fascinated Johannes. This was an additional puzzle piece in his life and his work, though at the time he was unaware of where it would lead him. But today this fascination serves him well in body painting: “You always have to know an animal’s anatomy well in order to paint it.” However, from this knowledge to a finished work of body art is a long journey.

The Complete Works

The model stands motionless, though she continues to shiver. With paint-covered hands Johannes reaches for the camera. Things have to happen quickly now before the reflection of the water changes or the next cloud passes by. And then I hear the quiet ‘click’.

The model has become one with the breathtaking panorama. Johannes is right: In order to see something special, you only have to look closely. “My current profession unites everything that I ever wanted from life. Once, he was unsure how to unite his many talents and now he notices, piece by piece, that his life has become a complete work of art. It’s like a colourful puzzle and perhaps one day it all fit together, like his works of art in which it’s hard to tell where the person ends and nature begins.


Text: Katja Schroffenegger
Photos: Manuel Kottersteger and Johannes Stötter/ WB Production
Video: Miramonte Film – Andreas Pichler
Year of publication: 2017 - Stories from South Tyrol