We recently visited the Brooklyn studio of Aaron Johnson as he was preparing his upcoming solo show with Poulsen Gallery in Copenhagen, opening February 23rd. Ever busy, Johnson was also working on a new collaborative show with Christian Rex Van Minnen at Ross and Kramer Gallery in NYC, opening on March 7th. Both exhibitions will be featuring new works from his current series in which the artist is exploring the washes of a paint-stained raw canvas as a way to uncover the luminosity of the human spirit in a world full of darkness.

Staring at the Sun will be Johnson's fourth solo show with the Copenhagen gallery, and it is titled after one of the recent paintings depicting a colorful crowd of cowboys, carnies, angles, demons, shamans, zombies and spirits gathered around a blazing orange orb. Symbolizing the way art may cut through the darkest days of political turmoil around the world like fiery rays of sunlight, this piece is a result of a new technique the artist developed in a recent couple of years. On another hand, the NYC show will be somewhat of a sequel to Chum Chum Rubby Dubby show the two artist friends introduced at Aisho Nanzuka Gallery in Hong Kong back in November and will include some new collaborative sculptural works along with individual paintings by each artist.

Always an experimental painter, with tricks ranging from painting in reverse to crusting up his canvases with old socks, the new body of work is created while working flat on the floor, soaking the canvas, and working with highly fluid acrylic. With very vague control over the behavior of paint, the forms building, and the hues mixing, it is the technique and material that leads the outcome of the work rather than the artist himself. With ghost-like shapes and silhouettes appearing on the surface, creating narratives and building relationships, these images feature Johnson's most direct and expressionistic painterly chops. His figures are now being minimized to merely watery stains on canvas, and it is their organic shapes, luminosity, and hues that resonate in various emotional and psychological moments of romance, menace, humor, and horror. Keeping the grotesque appearance of his character in smaller pieces by adding detailed, illustrative elements, observing these rich images is as hypnotizing as watching them appear which we were lucky to witness.

Text and images by Sasha Bogojev