Johnson has created two distinctive and wildly innovative approaches to painting: his well-known “reverse-painted acrylic polymer-peel” paintings and his sock paintings. The two bodies of work exist in counterpoint; meticulously layered Indian-miniaturesque details in his reverse-paintings starkly juxtapose the swashbuckling brushstrokes created by a clunky impasto of flung socks in his sock paintings. Uniting his two modes of work is Johnsonʼs inimitable style, a painterly madness flowing forward from his influences of Goya, Peter Saul, Picasso, Ensor, Llyn Foulkes, and the Hairy Who. Johnson’s paintings are a delight of a seductive surface, garish color, and entangled flesh. 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, the Fundacion Mehr, and The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. His work has been included in museum exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art; The Knoxville Museum of Contemporary Art; The Katzen Center at American University; and MASS MoCA, MA. He is the recipient of many awards, including The MacDowell Colony Fellowship, The Corporation of Yaddo Residency, The Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, and the VCCA Fellowship. Johnson’s work has been reviewed in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Village Voice, ArtNews, and ArtForum.
Johnson’s art manifests through a harnessed combination of chance and design — a splash of paint, poured haphazardly direct from a tin to the translucent stretched plastic canvas, becomes a vivid and carnivalesque writhing of forms through a series of delicate, figure-finding embellishments. “Gravedigger”s lively drama of sex, violence and death combines with the strong palette to suggest some Día de Muertos revelation and ceremony. The chromatic aberrations in the cloudy fields of colour come from the unlikely source of paint — collected over time from the artist’s brushes as they’re washed after use, then left to sit and split into separately oxidising layers.