Chris Johanson “Alright Alright” Misaki Kawai “Big Bubble” Malmö Konsthall, Malmö 10 September – 27 November
From 10 September through 27 November, Malmö Konsthall will simultaneously host two dazzling expositions by foreign artists: the exhibition, “Alright Alright”, by the American painter and street artist, Chris Johanson (1968); and the installation, “Big Bubble”, by the Japanese artist, Misaki Kawai (1978), a colorful figure in naïve art.
Chris Johanson. Make Sense Again. 2009-2010
“Alright Allright” by Chris Johanson
Chris Johanson grew up in California, in a suburb of San Jose. In addition to a traditional art education, Johanson practiced art in daily life by painting friends' skateboards and creating designs for posters and fliers. After turning to illegal street art, he gradually started using public spaces to comment on relevant issues in American society.
Chris Johanson is well known for his paintings and drawings featuring urban themes and combining images with text. He works in a variety of mediums – painting, sculpture, installations, cinematography, video, music and the written word. Study of the surrounding environment was already visible in his early works. In succeeding years, Johanson has continued to work in the spirit of a documentarian, but his art has transformed from teenage bravura to notable, grandiose art. Johanson portrays street culture in its true colors: yuppies, hippies, hipsters, gangsters of the block, outsiders, free-thinkers, drunkards and other contemporary characters, as well as society's reaction to current events.
Although Johanson's works are exhibited in America's leading contemporary art galleries and museums, as well as elsewhere in the world, he still likes to work in public spaces, such as in shopping malls and bookstores, or on the street – the environment that has been most inspiring to him and that has always motivated him to create.
The artist Misaki Kawai has a mechanical pet – a cat with a velvety, grayish-brown coat and clear-blue plastic eyes; it meows and turns its head. Misaki strokes its fur like a loving mother and claims that she can decipher the robotic cat's emotional state by its range of meows. This should rightly seem very strange – an adult woman perceiving a mechanical soul as a loving being, almost personifying it; but this total immersion into a confusing, fantastical world is part of the creative spirit that makes Misaki Kawai's work so soulful and emotional.
The Brooklyn, USA-based Japanese artist's playful work, bounded by primitive tendencies, could be called psychedelic handicraft. It is inspired by the Japanese manga drawing style, heta-uma,which literally means “bad-good”, or rather, a bad technique that gives good results. The mediums and ranges of materials that she uses – a synthesis of pieces of fabric, tangled yarn and various ready-made objects –reveal a new universe, as warm and personal as a hand-crafted item in which defects have been turned into effects. However, her art isn't as innocently homey as a knitted sweater or a snugly baby animal, and an unmistakeable touch of dark humor can be seen in her works as well. Insolence and obscenity are lightly masked in her creations, almost as if one is looking through the mind of an innocent child.
For her exposition in Malmö, Misaki Kawai has created completely new and unseen works, including an impressively large sculptural installation which was built by the artist in Malmö this summer.
The exhibition's catalog will be issued as a T-shirt, available in limited numbers.