The Modern Institute presents a new body of acrylic works on paper and canvas by Los Angeles based artist and musician Chris Johanson. Comprising of scenes and abstracted forms, Johanson’s works addresses thoughts of an existential nature, and reflect the experience of our current times. Incorporating leading and probing texts within the charged imagery, Johanson encourages the viewer to query what is presented, and to consider the parallels in our lives. His treatment of such scenes and the starkness in which the details are presented suggest fragments of recollection, or documentation of activities of the past year.
Phrases like ‘Who Knows’, ‘Occupy Time’ and the placement of words seen in And, While all allude to the uncertainty and sense of waiting pervading the global community. In Remember, two figures on scooters in the centre of a hazy blue setting conjure a nostalgia for a care-free normality that now seems alien in contrast to the masked figures in spaced seating depicted in (LA Metro Silver Linings Public Art Project drawing #6) that is now ubiquitous. First And Foremost, This Is A Person features a solitary figure clad in black, kneeling with both arms in the air, indisputably brings to mind recent headlines. In most of the paper works, there is an urgency in its execution, capturing only the key details of the overall scene to convey particular moments and emotions.
Other works depict multi-coloured swirling compositions that push, curl and pool in dynamic movement, enticing viewers to lose themselves in the dense colour and flow - perhaps a reprieve from the reality Johanson reminds us. The approach to colour and pattern we see in the upper half of The Self (With Riddle) is notably different from the vibrancy of the canvas abstractions, featuring repeated stripes of sombre colours floating above a lying figure as thoughts of anxiety derived from the pandemic are expressed. In spite of the apprehensions evinced in this new series, Johanson’s technique and comic style paired with his wry observations suggest an optimism and encouragement to find calm and humour within the current chaos and uncertainty.