Modern Institute hosts Chris Johanson exhibition Considering
Colourful works from LA-based artist influenced by 1990s skateboarding scene
‘Life rhythms’ is the phrase that Los Angeles-based artist Chris Johanson uses to get at the heart of his new Modern Institute exhibition, a selection of pieces constituting one grand ‘meditation on living’, which at once invokes the natural and the urban. With no official art training, his schooling came in the skateboarding and 'zine scenes of San Francisco in the 1990s, through which he’s become part of the city’s urban rustic Mission School of artists. There’s a certain structured naivety about what they do, a fascination with spraypaint and graffiti art, biros and cartoon strips.
‘I view all the work I make as a continual piece,’ he says, with this particular display centring on found wood structures shaped like trees and graph-like frames, painted brightly in situ with half-used tins of paint. ‘Colour-wise, it looks half California, half Glasgow,’ he continues. ‘This work is about balance and the dance of life; it’s about trying to be reasonable. It looks simple because I’m trying to take complications and make them easier to navigate through.’
For Johanson, the culture of skateboarding still remains a huge influence. ‘It’s a very liberating act to get on a board and be on your own path,’ he says. ‘I’m interested in blurring the boundaries of high and low culture. So-called low culture is, in my view, the art of the people. In the USA there’s a real problem with money to fund creativity-building environments, especially for youths, and that’s a real shame. I move around many of the different worlds of art because I’m interested in a lot of them – I try and have a varied experience of art and of life. I don't relate to “the world is your oyster”; I relate to “I am an oyster”.’
Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Fri 20 Dec