Aaron Johnson and Christian Rex van Minnen's "Chum Chum Rubby Dubby" in Hong Kong
Aisho Nanzuka Gallery in Hong Kong will be opening much anticipated two-man show titled Chum Chum Rubby Dubby, featuring all new works by Aaron Johnson and Christian Rex Van Minnen. With one of the artists literally constructing his paintings from socks and the other one pretty much putting the masters of Dutch Golden Age to task with his use of oils, this show will be introducing a new, beautiful level of weird to the Hong Kong megalopolis.
For this exhibition, Aaron Johnson prepared a large series of works that introduce some of his most recognized styles and techniques used to date. From signature sock paintings and sculptures to more recent stain-based figurative compositions and patterns which are completely reinventing his aesthetics and practice. By manipulating material in any way it feels fitting that the sock paintings are, in reality, sculptural pieces, while the stain images have the complexity of abstract creations. Loosely mixing a fluid effect of watered-out paint with sections of solid color and detailed features such as eyes or teeth these works evoke the psychedelic feel of tie-dye patterns while keeping the format of figuration. Johnson's work is filled with cowboy hats, burgers, pizza, and guns, while cleverly balancing between looking absolutely terrifying and utterly hilarious.
On another hand, the technical and aesthetic influence of van Minnen's work comes from the Dutch Golden Age of painting. Using and reinventing some of the classical methods of old masters, he is achieving the most incredible effects with his show-stopping oils—whether we're talking about light, the rich background, the softness of the colors and gradients, hair shines, tattoo and now spraypaint effects, or the incredible depth of the overall composition. Utilizing all of those to construct the most ingenious images, regularly based on the traditional portrait format, he then twists everything into a surreal realistic mashup of visuals. Effortlessly playing with all the elements, he composes his figures from images found at most diverse sources, mixing Internet memes, tattoos, classic art, and random photographs into extremely bizarre, yet alluring masterpieces.
This exhibition will be a chance for the two American artists, whose careers have had a similar path during the same period of time, to exhibit their work side-by-side for the first time. Although fundamentally different on so many levels, the showcase proves just how compatible and complementing are the works of NY-based Johnson and now Cali resident Van Minnen. This spirit culminates in two collaborative sculptural pieces that the artists produced especially for this exhibition, by sending the work back and forth across the country. Borrowing the title from one of those collaborative pieces, Chum Chum Rubby Dubby feels like the kind of exhibition that 2 friends throw together out of pure fun, but because of their amazing talent and endless creativity, it happens to be a milestone art show at the same time. —Sasha Bogojev