Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Gone Fishin’, the gallery’s first solo show with
Brooklyn-based artist, Aaron Johnson. The exhibition takes a multidisciplinary approach to
painting, as the artist continues his intention to evolve the historical medium of “painting”
into new, contemporary adaptations. The opening reception for Aaron Johnson will take
place on Thursday, April 20, with the exhibition running through to May 20, 2017. The artist
will be in attendance for the opening.
The art of Aaron Johnson exists as a world of balance and dichotomies. Creating a universe
of opposites, Johnson’s imaginary world of the grotesque skillfully connects dreams with
nightmares, life with death. Concentrating his often irreverent ideological focus, Johnson
continues to perfect new ways of making work, strengthening the unique universe his
The exhibition, Gone Fishin’ will be a combination of related, but very different
techniques. Showcasing his reverse paintings, sock paintings and sock sculptures,
as well as blotted works on paper, Johnson’s relevant messages, and cultural critiques
become fresh and powerful through his unique visual channels. Referencing the American
idea of leisure and free time, Gone Fishin’ sets a contradictory stage, one of relaxation and
escape, interrupted by the ongoing currents of violence and struggle.
The title piece of the show, Gone Fishin’, forces the viewer to question the possibility of
leisure and escapism. In this large-scale piece, made entirely of used and donated socks,
we see a world of painful yet humorous opposition. This historically tranquil setting of a
couple fishing on a lake, simultaneously highlights the viciousness of nature. The work’s
main figures sit isolated in their own gluttony; their faces twisting and turning into the ugly.
Johnson’s unique medium of crowdsourced socks, strengthens the absurdity of the scene.
Carrying with them the collective memory of their past, these worn socks bring holes, tears,
and texture to create a visceral and unsettling scenario of violence, gluttony, and unrest.
Johnson’s sock paintings serve as inventive visual reliefs, projecting from the panel, forcing
illusionistic (painting) and real space (sculpture) to coexist. Leaping off the canvas into full
sculpture for the first time, for this show, Johnson has decided to present a table of free
standing sock sculptures, echoing the relief elements found within the wall pieces.
Hamburgers, guns, wine glasses, french fries, and a pack of cigarettes, occupy their own
space in the gallery, rich in both color and tactility.
The theme of interrupted peace continues in the show’s largest “reverse painting,” Gone
Truckin’, which centers around a moonlit country drive. What once again begins as an idyllic
scene, a couple out for a romantic drive, listening to music, is twisted and derailed by a
violent crash into a deer. This “Americana” scenario is both a dream and now nightmare, as
we see the couple before the crash, and during. Johnson’s ability to present concurrent
timelines, here creates intense visual drama. The figures intertwine in a motion that is
simultaneously sexual and violent.
As an artist, Johnson explores his themes with skilled and fresh techniques. His reverse
paintings are painted backwards, starting with the small details and working in reverse
layers toward the background. The physical process involves painting on the reverse side of
the stretched plastic sheeting, pouring on layers of acrylic polymer between progressive
layers, and eventually ending up with a “paint skin” that is peeled away from the plastic and
mounted to polyester netting. His ingenuity of process continues in his sock paintings and
sculptures. Sourcing used socks, this seemingly absurd medium creates tactile figures,
whose grotesque nature becomes amplified with this new authorship. These innovative
works carry critical messages, while using humor and absurdity to help us cope with the
violence of our own surroundings.
Rounding out the exhibition will be a set of works on paper. Another opportunity for the
artist to explore new techniques, Johnson creates a chain reaction of works that hold
echoing blots of form and color. Details for each narrative use this accidental process as the
backdrop, although, this blotting can continue through several stages, before the artist
begins to finish the piece with recognizable detail.
Aaron Johnson holds an MFA from Hunter College, 2005, and lives and works in Brooklyn.
His work is in permanent collections at such institutions as The Museum of Modern Art, New
York, NY, Colección Solo, Madrid, Spain; Fundación Mehr, and the Frederick R. Weisman
Foundation, Beverly Hills, CA. His work has been included in museum exhibitions at The
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art,
Peekskill, NY; The Knoxville Museum of Contemporary Art, Knoxville, TN; the Katzen Art
Center at American University, Washington, D.C.; and MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA. He is
the recipient of many awards, including The MacDowell Colony Fellowship, Peterborough,
NH; The Corporation of Yaddo Residency, Saratoga Springs, NY; The Marie Walsh Sharpe
Space Program, New York, NY; the VCCA Fellowship, Amherst, VA; and the CCA Andratx
Residency, Mallorca, Spain. Johnson’s work has been reviewed in numerous publications
including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Village Voice, ARTnews, and