Aaron Johnson, "Gone Fishin'" Solo Show at Joshua Liner Gallery New York

It’s been ugly lately. Anywhere you go, you’ll hear news about bad things happening. There’s a maelstrom of distastefulness everywhere. Thankfully, we have art to serve as an escape to this mess we’re in. Aaron Johnson shall provide us with this escape.

I’ve been following Aaron Johnson. I find it hard to describe his art. If you follow him on instagram, you’ll know what I’m talking about. He creates a different world, perhaps even one of a kind, wherein characters are overtly ugly, insidious and silly. It all seems so grotesque and yet so lovely.

This Thursday, Aaron will open his solo-show at Joshua Liner Gallery in New York titled ‘Gone Fishin’. Escapism is the main theme. Artworks such as Gone Truckin’, Gone Fishin’, are a few titles that hits some familiar notes depicting the American lifestyle. Used socks is one of the main elements to Aaron’s artworks. Yes, used socks! One might squeamishly feel grossed-out, while others are sure to find hilarity in the narrative. But personally, I find his art appealing.

I conducted a short interview with Aaron to find out more about this show. Read on

Interview by Mark Changco.
Art by Aaron Johnson.

Gone Truckin'

If it happened that someone who is clearly a skeptic went to your show and asked you what’s it about about, what will you tell that person?

I’m exploring lighthearted escapist scenarios in these works, the idea of checking out from reality, especially in these times of frightening current events. In that spirit I give you a fishing painting, a hot tub painting, a hiking painting, and a full moon joyride make-out session in a pickup truck on a country road, and etc. A dark sense of humor comes into the work though, as the bliss of escape seems to elude and instead a sense of something rotten pervades.

Why (used) socks?

The first sock to hit the canvas (in 2012) was an irreverent gesture, throwing a sock into the sacred space of painting. Beyond that I got engaged with the sock as a kind of ready made impasto: a sock cleverly mimics a beefy brushstroke. The socks are used, which brings everyone into the work, literally. I like to make work that is accessible, that pulls the viewer in, and by using your old socks I am pulling in a little fragment of your person into my work. In that sense it’s a collaboration. I solicit old socks on social media, and in exchange I mail out little drawings to my sock donors. The exchange brings a collective consciousness to the work. The socks certainly contribute to metaphor: human filth, soiled sweaty feet, dirty laundry, all of those associations creep into the experience of the work.

“The socks certainly contribute to metaphor: human filth, soiled sweaty feet, dirty laundry, all of those associations creep into the experience of the work.”

Can you talk a little bit about your process? Did you introduce something new for this series compared with your previous ones?

I work in several of distinct processes, the results of all of which are hanging in this show. The reverse paintings function in layers receding backwards from the picture plane, while the sock paintings do the opposite: layering forward into sculptural extensions. My works on paper approach is fast and loose: slobbering and blotting paint, seeking bodies that organically emerge from the paint. The newest approach is sculptures made of socks, and this show is my sculptural debut!

What is the experience that you want your audience to take-away from this show?

I hope people get immersed exploring the details, surfaces, and narratives. Some resulting laughs and cringes, and things in between, would be great.

What is your favorite piece from the show? Why?

Gone Fishin’ is the title of the largest work, and my favorite. I love working big and creating a potential space to engulf the viewer. I think there’s an uncanny quality to the fish, as they startled me a bit with their weird sense of unreal/realism, and that feels important. I look at this painting, now that it’s finished, and I would like to be living it. I would like to be that weirdo fisherman, eating burgers and pizza and drinking wine, with his wife in his shoddy little boat, hoping the buzzards don’t bite, just adrift on a lake.

Gone Fishin'

“Gone Fishin'” will have an opening reception on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 6-9PM. And the show will run ’til the 20th of May.

To find out more about available works contact: karyn@joshualinergallery.com

Joshua Liner Gallery
540 West 28th Street
New York, NY 10001
+1 (212) 244-7415


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