Chris JohansonAmerican (San Jose, California, 1968)
The Sunlight of the Spirit Is the Warmth of Love
Johanson, a key figure among San Francisco's "Mission School" artists, combines social criticism with a certain optimism in his installations. His work often conceals sophisticated content beneath a seemingly naive, folk-art style of execution.
Made of wood scraps scavenged from the city's streets, the figures here stand on a brown table that is evocative of the earth. With their thoughts, roles, and names spilling down their sides, the figures seem to represent the relationships between people who compose a society — civilians, scientists, warmongers — and the various problems that exist within it, such as greed and war.
But Johanson mitigates the harshness of these observations by placing the figures before a gigantic, colorful explosion — a recurrent motif in his artworks that he describes as "just super-positive energy." Though Johanson has observed that "the world's a mess," his hope for change finds expression in this juxtaposition of earth and energy.