We can never get enough of American artist Chris Johanson. For two decades, this California-born artist has been transforming commonplace ideas and totally human thoughts into wildly colourful, expressive stories. His personality is as much an enigma as his work, simultaneously ambiguous and authentic. Using an array of mediums, from paint to wood, Chris’ work has been a long running comment on consumerism, capitalism, cult spirituality, self-help and a musing on our old friend the sun.
You may recognise his positive, acid-y work from the iconic documentary Beautiful Losers and the Mission School art movement that he is so often associated with. Chris Johanson comes from a background in the North California punk scene, making posters, zines, music and thoroughly involved in DIY culture. There is a rawness and authenticity that seems to have followed him from these roots. Using simple, naive forms he creates paintings, drawings, installation and sculpture. Commonly using recycled materials like reclaimed wood and paper, in the past few years Chris has also delved into furniture making with his wife and fellow artist Jo Jackson.
His older works were a reflection on his totally suburban upbringing, and in recent times has morphed into more of a positivity-spruiking, good vibes-encouraging message for The People. In his work lies dry humour alongside emotionally vulnerability, child-like wonder, run-on sentences, nudists, natural energy, rainbows and mellow-ness. Chris says, “I love to work in the medium of life”, avoiding corporate ladders and resume building and focussing on what truly makes you happy. His often abstract but poignant philosophy and general openness is utterly infectious.
“I try to make my art life practice a positive experience. Sometimes I am successful and I believe that is an accomplishment because life’s weight is not always a good thing to process.” True that.
See more of Chris Johanson’s work on his website.