1991-2010. I Was There

March 26 - May 15 2010

It is a great pleasure for Galleri Nicolai Wallner to present 1991-2010. I was there, an exhibition with works on paper by Chris Johanson.

In collaboration with Chris Johanson more than one hundred drawings have been selected from the artist’s private collection of own works. The individual works range from elaborate compositions of text and imagery to more simple expressions, represented with remarkable brevity. Working with an oeuvre spanning almost twenty years, naturally presents certain challenges. The exhibition is not organized strictly chronological but rather forms a journey through different themes and motifs important to the artist. These can tentatively be summarized as: Life on the street, alternative lifestyle, people and their relations, reflection of self, individual versus group, and the future.

As a young man living in The Mission district of San Francisco in the early nineties Johanson created raw, down on your luck depictions of bar brawls and drug deals. He pictured the various subcultures of which the city is known in a way that both seems to poke fun and earnestly accept them. Although blunt and to the point, Johanson is not a cynic. There is always a certain measure of sympathy as Johanson explore how people interact, become victims of their own problems or even exist at the expense of others. He shows us human life in a direct and immediate way as he discusses existential issues like self-delusion, alienation, deceit, and monotony. The pressure to fit in and move forward is a major subject depicted by people on assembly lines and serialized peg-shaped figures. The artist points out the light and dark side of society and urges us to care more about each other and our environment. The exhibition finds its conclusion in the primary colours and jagged compositions of Johanson’s recent more abstract works. In these the artist depicts a future that seems to bring the promise of a new beginning.

Chris Johanson (b.1968) lives and works in Portland (Oregon). While living in San Francisco Johanson was one of the leading members of the artistic community that arose in The Mission district and that became centre of the exhibition “Beautiful Losers” touring North American museums in 2004-2005. Through his work and collaborations Chris Johanson has had an enduring effect on younger American and European artists.

Johanson has exhibited extensively throughout Europe and North America. Recent solo exhibitions include Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art (San Diego), SITE Santa Fe, SFMOMA (San Francisco), and UCLA Hammer Museum (Los Angeles). Johanson’s work has been included in group-exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Deste Foundation (Athens), Museum of Modern Art (New York), New Museum (New York), the 8th Istanbul Biennial, and the 4th Berlin Biennial.

carrie emberlyn