Kysa Johnson-As Above, So Below and Joachim Schulz– Blumenstilleben: Flower Still Lifes at Von Lintel Gallery
By Sara Fortson
Through August 2017
One look at the intricate and seemingly abstractionist paintings by Kysa Johnson on display at Von Lintel Gallery in the exhibition As Above, So Below and it is immediately evident that her brain is working on a different scale. The paintings range in size from relatively small, to very large, which mirrors the subject matter. The paintings could be galaxies or microscopic anatomies of subatomic particles, but they all beg to be stared at and absorbed for longer than one might view them on opening night. If they were seen at the opening reception, it is definitely worth it to return to the gallery on a weekday and take a longer, closer look at the work and absorb it in its entirety.
The subject matter may be science based, but the color palette and the gestural strokes are absolutely from the art world. The artist was a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Grant and her style, though more controlled than either Pollock or Krasner, is reminiscent of the early abstract expressionists in the sense that the paint and brush feels like an extension of the artist’s body and that the paint on canvas is merely a representation of the inner workings of the creative brain. Though focused less on the emotional and more on the logical, and bearing lengthy names like “Blow up 288 – the long goodbye – subatomic decay patterns with the Sagittarius Star Cloud,” Johnsons work is a deep marrying of art and science, emotion and logic, and one that in an age where both are condemned as fools pursuits, is worth thorough examination and appreciation. The work may be science-rooted, but it is not without emotional response.
A site-specific installation in the back room of the gallery focuses on the composition of gold as a natural element and the role that it plays in economic systems. This installation is positioned in such a way in the gallery that viewers are ushered in without warning, and the scale when juxtaposed against the other works elicits a resounding “wow.”
Reviews and articles about Johnson’s work are often heavily scientific and delve deeply into the influence of subatomic decay patterns and her interest in quantum mechanics, but the works need no understanding of physics in order to marvel at their beauty. It is no easy task to take something as vast and difficult to comprehend as string theory into such beautiful works of art that elicit the same emotions as staring into a clear night sky and knowing that there is so much more out there.
In the second gallery at Von Lintel, is a collection of photographs by German artist Joachim Schulz. Pairing very well with Johnson’s detailed subatomic gestural paintings, the photographs are abstractionist, yet completely recognizable. These works are made by taking photographs of Dutch floral paintings and printing them using an inkjet printer. The printer is purposely tampered with both physically and digitally, and the result is feathering and bleeding pools of multi-colored ink. The paper that Schulz uses isn’t made for such prints, causing the drying time to extend, much like an oil painting. The forms that are produced from this meticulous process are nonrepresentational, but are still floral in nature, giving way to the idea that even though the process has been tampered with they still exist in their original form.
Schulz takes the photorealistic and academic genre of Dutch still life oil painting and turns it into something modern and abstract. The use of modern mechanics and technology to explore a different side of Old Master works settles in nicely with contemporary explorations of past vs. present and tradition vs. progress. The work also fits in with Kysa Johnson’s work in the sense of explorations of technology and the future.
Kysa Johnson- As Above, So Below and Joachim Schulz- Blumenstilleben: Flower Still Lifes at Von Lintel Gallery is on display until August, 2017
Von Lintel Gallery is located at 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034.