In Heaven, Everything is Fine According To Christian Rex van Minnen and Aaron Johnson
Four months since their debut two-man show in Hong Kong with Aisho Nanzuka gallery (read our coverage here), Christian Rex Van Minnen and Aaron Johnson are coming back where their friendship started-NYC. In Heaven, Everything is Fine will be their debut showcase with Ross + Kramer Gallery and will include all new paintings and new collaborative sculptures.
Opening on March 7th this unique showcase will present the complementing and contrasting works by the two painters with very distinctive visual languages. In times when painting is going through a great period of revival and new names are being added to the existing roster of the greats, both Van Minnen and Johnson are continuously keeping their well-deserved spots. One working in the manner of the iconic golden age of Dutch painting, and one constantly experimenting with techniques and currently producing great images working with watered out stains of paint, both their oeuvres are regularly described as absurd, humorous, grotesque, and even disturbing.
Appropriately titled after the song In Heaven, Everything is Fine from David Lynch’s 1977 film Eraserhead, this showcase questions the dichotomies of darkness vs. light, romance vs. horror, and spirit vs. flesh. With a clear focus on humans as the main motif of the work, they are portraying an alternative reality which is based on the existing elements of our everyday life. Tattoo covered faces or bloody scars are juxtaposed against most realistically and classically rendered human figures in the newest series of Van Minnen's perplexing portraits, while Johnson painted a new series of bizarre gatherings of people and creatures, imbued with scenes of passion, rage, love, and conflict.
Reminiscent of tie-dye fabrics which are the synonym for peace and love, these semi-abstract compositions are hiding countless elements that evoke aggression and blood-thirst, hidden between watered out splats of vibrant hues. With threatening teeth and motionless, wide open eyes scattered around zombie-like creatures, Johnson's images are as definite as his technique allows him. While working with an antipodal technique which allows him meticulous rendition of the finest detail, Van Minnen's new series tends to blur all those details into a complex narrative of layered images. Continuing his signature body of work that is experimenting with classical realism, surrealism, and abstraction, his female subjects are stripped of any facial features and now entirely covered with layers of often explicit, prison-like tattoos. Merely suggesting where the eyes or mouths could or should be, these worn out colourful inks are topped with a freshly done stick and poke tattoos of surfing imagery as a nod to artist's recent move to California. The move to the homeland of Hollywood and everything bizarre is also marked with a mind-blowing abstract still-life hallucination titled Mother of All Hubbards.
The show will also include new collaborative sculptures that the artists worked on together, combining their handy work and craftsmanships, a variety of influences, along with masterful art-making skills and compatible mindset, imagination, and vision. The show opening on the 7th of March will be followed up by an artist talk event moderated by Erik Parker on the 9th of March.