Aaron Johnson (US)
”Love Songs For Demons”
November 2 > December 22 2007
Opening: Friday November 2, 5-8 pm
MOGADISHNI AAR is pleased to present “Love Songs For Demons”, the first solo exhibition in Denmark by the American artist Aaron Johnson (b. 1975). The show features new paintings and drawings, in which a sensuous and hallucinatory universe with demonic creatures, shifty politicians, and American iconography is unfolded. The works at the show can be seen as critical comments on certain aspects of American society today.
Contradictions are significantly characteristic in Johnson’s work. The title of the show “Love Songs For Demons” refers to the dichotomies of seduction/repulsion and love/hate.
Upon viewing the paintings at the show, you will probably first notice their geometric and ornamented forms, conspicuous, psychedelic colours and smooth, and clear surfaces. This first impression will easily relate to an unblemished and romantic experience related to the pop qualities of love songs (hence the title “Love Songs”). After the first impression you will notice that the paintings are not that harmless at all, but full of demons. Subverted under the initial surface grotesque and violent narratives are revealed, where body parts, viscera and decapitated heads explode into the air. The characters in these paintings are part of a violent chaos that is simultaneously beautiful, ecstatic and flowering.
“Bonnie & Clyde” is an example at the show, where horror and ecstasy are mutually simbiotic. The painting shows a male and a female figure in a sensuous embrace, while they are simultaneously about to devour and distroy each other, as they shoot pistols off into the air in a star-spangled salute.
Johnson chooses to portray the outlaw criminal lovers Bonnie & Clyde, who created a spectacle in the 1930s when they rampaged though Amerika with their reckless killings and robberies, as a critique of the heated fascination with violence and the immense need for spectacle, which according to him, characterizes America today. Johnson chooses to let contradictions such as seduction/repulsion melt together as a metaphor for our contemporary condition where our perception of spectacle and reality is perpetually blurred.
Caracteristic for Aaron Johnson is a unique painting method, which literally turns the conventions of painting inside-out. His process involves painting in reverse on stretched plastic, thereby building up his images from the small details first, proceeding, in backwards logic, to the background last; after which stretched netting is applied to the painted image, allowing the paint to congeal to the net through an application of polymer. Ultimately, and seemingly magically, the plastic is peeled away and the painting is complete.
In Aaron Johnson’s work, process and images go hand in hand. His backwards methods in turn conceptually flip reality inside-out to reveal that beneath the veils of culture and sophistication we are all insatiable beasts. And according to Johnson the beast is doing very well because of our over-saturated contemporary culture.
Aaron Johnson lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, and holds an MFA from Hunter College. He has had several exhibitions at the gallery Priska C. Juschka Fine Art. His work is in the collection of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art and in the permanent drawings collection of MoMA, New York.
MOGADISHNI AAR welcomes You to the gallery!
Aaron Johnson will be present at the opening November 2nd.