Chris Johanson

May 1, 2001 - July 29, 2001


Chris Johanson works extensively in painting, drawing, and sculpture to create tuned-in portrayals of the world whose insights ring loud and clear. He combines text-and-image format to to allude to the human need for balance and harmony and point out the positive and negative aspects of city life. At the Hammer Museum, Johanson presents arrangement of individual drawings and paintings, along with his multilevel, three-dimensional dioramas depicting loose narrative scenarios. This installation presents the ideas found in his drawings and paintings in such a way that viewers can experience them more viscerally and understand his acute sensitivity of the world around us.

About the Exhibition

By Julie Deamer

With every experience I expand like a balloon blown up beyond its capacity. The most terrifying intensification bursts into nothingness. . . . Life breeds both plenitude and void, exuberance and depression. What are we when confronted with the interior vortex which swallows us into absurdity? . . . It is like an explosion that cannot be contained, which throws you into the air along with everything else. (1)

The art of Chris Johanson is expansive. Working prolifically in painting, drawing, and sculpture, he creates tuned-in portrayals of the world whose insights ring loud and clear. A receptive viewer will recognize that what is being shared is a deeply honest and pure account of the artist's relationship to society. Viewing Johanson's work is like taking a walk around town with the artist himself as he points out the positive and negative aspects of city life. The characters that populate his paintings and drawings, and the words and phrases that enhance their impact, allude to the human need for balance and harmony. The problems that afflict people, as well as the good times in life that help it all make sense, are often presented simultaneously. The artist has said of his work: "I try to show people––happy people, sad people, angry people, people who drink and do drugs too much, business people who work too much. I try to show society as a whole." (2) More

1. E. M. Cioran, "On Not Wanting to Live," in On the Heights of Despair, trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston (1934; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 8.

2. Quoted in Clare Guerrero, "Chris Johanson" (1997), published on KRON-TV’s First Cut Web site (www.firstcut.com/9724/n4.html).

Julie Deamer is an independent curator and writer living in Los Angeles.


Hammer Projects are made possible by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Peter Norton Family Foundation.


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