Aaron Johnson’s sunny Brooklyn studio is full of riotous, colorfully undulating, larger-than-life monsters. He’s getting ready for a show that opens next week. Luckily, he had some paintings in progress so we can see how he puts his paint on. Known for making paintings that are both incredibly gorgeous and politically aggressive, Johnson continues to develop and has upped the ante with his new work. Now he’s including Old-Master appropriations, political satire, religious abominations, gender-benders, and personal references, all played out in monstrous iconography.
If painting is your thing, there’s a very good pop-up group show up in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. It’s only up for two days. Hung from floor-to-ceiling, the paintings disperse across the space in the configuration of an explosion. A bunch of artists who’ve been featured on B/D are in it: Tom Sanford, Jeremy Willis, Eddie Martinez, Aaron Johnson, and Eric Yahnker. There’s a huge list of people in the show.
Jowhara AlSaud makes hybrid photo/drawings that dance with anonymity and censorship. Jowhara started working with this subject after noticing commercial photos altered in Saudi Arabia, seeing “…skirts lengthened and sleeves crudely added with black markers in magazines or blurred out faces on billboards.” She then applied the censors’ language to her personal photographs. The work is strangely readable for giving so few clues away.
The faces that Rachel Niffenegger paints are seductive. A couple of her inspirations are “an obsession for gross out humor and imaginings of fantastical death scenes.” Her combination of a beautiful palette with zombiesque ghost portraiture works. You could hang one of these over your couch, and when your family visits – they might not even notice you had a screaming skull from hell suspended in the air over them.
Katy Krantz makes magical collage/painting hybrids. They bring to mind the French Surrealists’ favorite quote: “beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella”.*
Bobo is an art collective that emerged out of the Providence scene post-Fort Thunder. I really love Bobo’s poster “The Global Order of the Youngbloods,” it’s an overdose of occult and conspiracy infotainment. Bobo has managed to create a fun scene on their own terms. They ran a space in Philadelphia for a while, but now seem to be arranging/curating shows in New York, and performing as a band. Annie Pearlman brought them to my attention when I was doing a studio visit with Brian Belott.
Brian Belott’s Brooklyn studio is an immersive installation. Spelunking into a cavern on an alien planet filled with glittering artifacts from a lost culture, might, might compare to walking through Brian’s place. I was going to stay for an hour, but ended up being there for four hours because there was so much to look at and talk about. The whole situation is arranged with the discerning eye of the most selective, borderline pathological scavenger – and set to easy listening music, Brian’s “sonic wallpaper.” I got the feeling that each scrap of torn paper, every tube of glitter has been internalized. Then arranged into an invisible system that had started to resemble the stratified layers of rock at the Grand Canyon – there was a geological, epic scale to the amount of materials. Brian works with some art materials, but mostly with found stuff. He uses those thick cardboard kids books, colorful plastic combs, found audio, and posters. He makes paintings on glass, original music, found sound audio collages, paper collages, books covered in paint and decorated with rocks, and catalogs of other people’s private photography grouped by themes. In addition he does performances, many of which are on YouTube. Meeting Brian I got the immediate impression I was meeting someone special. He has a gigantic solo show “The Joy of File” opening Friday, February 26th at Zürcher Studio from 6 to 8pm.