Back Talk: A Conversation with Chris Johanson

July 25, 2012


Chris Johanson remains one of our favorite enigmas in all of contemporary art, and we like to keep it that way. He will be opening a new exhibition at Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery in New York City on September 14, 2012, and because that seems enough of an occasion to send one of our favorite artists a list of questions, we did just that.

Where are you living and working right now?

I live on the West Coast.


Least favorite part of making art? And your favorite part...

My favorite part of making art is making it. My least favorite part of making art is due dates.


Favorite medium to work with?

I love to work in the medium of Life.



Last art show / exhibition you saw:

The last show I saw was last Thursday at Night Gallery, a group show with lots of different mediums.


If you could collaborate with one artist, living or dead, who would it be?

I collaborate with Johanna Jackson all the time. I collaborate with Ron Burns and Brian Mumford in Sun Foot, too. I am working on lots of things with different people.



Artist(s) that inspire you?

Artists that come from and work in the trades.


What time of day are you most productive?

Life is a roller coaster, the brain is a boat rower.



Currently listening to?

Hickey, Leonard Cohen, Jackie O Motherfucker, Christine Shields, Sonny Smith, The Offs.


How do you take your coffee?

I never drink coffee.



Last meal?

Plain Yogurt.


Last three places you have lived?

Apartment, house with yard full of fruits and vegetables, shack with succulents, skunks, spiders, and squirrels.



Last time you traveled? To where?

This weekend I went to the Salad Festival in Palm Springs.


What website(s) do you visit most often?

There are some good environmental groups like NRDC that I donate to or contact elected officials about.



Website you're most ashamed that you visit daily?

I don't hang out in ashamed world.


A quote that has stuck with you?

Two things I heard. Sometimes the only way to stop is to crash. I don't know god, I know of god.



The most trivial thing you know?

I don't know what I think is trivial.


High school GPA?

My school didn't have grades or tests.



Least artistic award you've received?

It was this award where they tell you that you are shit and and that you have a black aura.


Oddest job you've done to make rent?

I sold time shares for a really beautiful serene green architecture condo on this tropical island where they did seminars on how to maximize return on capital in diversified investments all the while staying clean of negativity or greed burns. Everyone there had perfect teeth. Really great job until they found out I was stealing food. That was when I got into making art, as a way to kind of try something new, fresh, vibrant. I got into making these wheat paste prints of my face with my mother’s face superimposed on top with a fish superimposed underneath with the word Infinity written on the side. Next thing I realized after I regained consciousness like three years later. Suddenly I was a street artist and it has been fantastic. WOW.



DIY, Ask a question we didn't, and answer it.

Chris why is your skin so great? I sleep with an avocado on the pillow next to my face.