Chris Johanson
Untitled (Painting of a Man Leaving in Boat)

Chris Johanson’s Untitled (Painting of a Man Leaving in Boat) (2010) pictures a canoe drifting toward an off-kilter horizon line, which demarcates the cobalt sea from the cerulean sky. An orange-haired figure, oar positioned in mid-stroke, looks ahead—whether toward an edge or an infinite expanse, it is impossible to tell. Echoing a trope that recurs in Greek epic poetry, transcendental painting, and current-day reality television, the character is alone with nature. We witness—and likely empathize with—his voyage.

The prolific Chris Johanson produces paintings, zines, installations, and sculptures that are notable for their earnest, almost childlike abstraction. His work delves unabashedly into the emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of human nature, tracking points of commonality and difference using simple shapes and lines as well as an unflagging sense of magnanimous humor.