Please Listen I Have Something to Tell You About What Is
For more than a decade, Chris Johanson has been transforming day-to-day subject matter into simple stories in paintings that make bright, flat reference to illustration or folk art: The New York Times called their look “a down-on-its-luck, cheerfully abject cartoon style… reminiscent of artists like William Wegman, Raymond Pettibon and Sue Williams.” The same primary palette and angular compositions make Johanson’s abstract works, which often take the form of geometric patterns or starbursts, into gleeful but sophisticated takes on Modernism. This, the artist’s first major monograph, is also only the second title from Alleged Press, created by Aaron Rose of the influential Alleged gallery (1992-2002) and organizer of the groundbreaking traveling exhibition and accompanying catalogue, Beautiful Losers, in which Johanson featured prominently alongside artists such as Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, Phil Frost, Spike Jonze and Harmony Korine. Please listen I have something to tell you about what is assembles Johanson’s complete works to date, as well as several new pieces that have appeared nowhere else. Each spins a world from small, diffuse details: these are scenes where nude dancers, distracted pedestrians, forests, abstract rainbows and “good vibes” exist next to one another, on a sinister, comic edge that, even in its apparent brightness, can reflect the darkest places of human experience.