Chris Johanson - Affordable on Artspace
The Sunlight of the spirit is the Warmth of Love is the perfect Valentine's Day gift for a loved one
California-based Chris Johanson's work has evolved from black-Sharpie-marker comic drawings on the street and in the bars of San Francisco's Mission District to abstract, sincere, exuberant, rainbow-coloured paintings, sculptures, and installations that address the contemporary human condition with sincerity and wit.
His skill is in not only placing objects, people and events in space but creating the ineffable fabric that ties them all together. His installation for the 2002 Whitney Biennial was a great example of this and was as joyfully, emotionally sprawling as its title: This is a picture about a place we live called Earth that is inside of this place we call Space.
Johanson's interactive environments - sometimes constructed as mazes - are meant to be physically experienced, which only goes to intensify the psychological impact of his work. As well as the 2002 Whitney Biennial, many museums and galleries have held solo exhibitions of his work, including the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and Deitch Projects and Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery in New York.
The colourful, folk-art-style explosion in four-color etching we're highlighting as part of our Afffordable on Artspace series is a special commission that channels the intuitive artist's hope for change. If you're wondering about the lettering on the print the curator Bob Nickas has this to say in our Contemporary Artists Series monograph on Johanson.
"Johanson's text is always written in capital letters, meaning that he wants you to pay attention, that the volume is turned up. even when the message is gentle, that these are nothing less than declarations. The stream-of-consciusness that can engulf the inhabitants of Johnson's art might also have a relationship to the kinds of endless monologues that one overhears every day, or projects onto passersby, whether street people or businessmen on their cell phones. Language, as a positive and negative energy burst dominates."