Expressionist Artist Al Johnson Captivates Art Enthusiasts
What I want enthusiasts to see from my art is that making a decision to continue working in mixed-media art is where I am most comfortable. And, they will see that I am fearless in staying true to the acts of expressionism.
The making of “This Everlasting Moment” is my first thought about it was as simple as feeling silence in a space. It’s the warmth of comfort that comes from an embrace or holding a child close. But, I wanted the strength of the human spirit to show itself. I wanted the vibe to show a majestic and strong figure by using masculine colors and shapes. The piece is garnished by old, beat up metal and strings of steel encased in a natural dark colored box. Balancing all these elements together was challenging and worth enduring. I believe one of the hardest parts of creating is knowing when to let go. Often, I find artists tend to hold onto that notion that their art is needing something more. When it’s really just a gesture that is required. The painting itself is a mixture of acrylic and latex paints on a wooded panel. It is floated above found objects: metal wire that is strung and breaded to span up and down. It is held by a wardrobe tie and scarf hangers on wooden bases upon a scrap metal molding from an old brownstone mansion. It’s all encased in an antique wood box frame.
The age I found out I was an artist came before I knew how to write my name. I remember the ways I found comfort myself was to illuminate the visions I had or seek them all over the walls and in the back of furniture and in the back of liner pages in books. I also remember those beatings everytime my parents brought new furniture. Eventually, they found out about sketch pads and art teachers comments on my report card. Then everybody knew that I was an artist.
My proudest moment as an artist came when we unveiled the portrait of Shirley A. Chisholm on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall with 500 spectators. But, also it is to see the eyes of my students’ amazement of what they have created to show me.
My greatest inspiration is my family. All of my family supported me even my old dog, Stryce. My beliefs are also of an inspiration too; finding and believing in a source greater than anyone and knowing that it works from inside out and to know that a power can work through me is in itself, an inspiration.
What I have heard from others about my art? I have heard that it’s surreal and it’s abstract in its forms. But, it’s mixed with an expressionistic and ethnic impressionistic sense with moody colors that have a healing effect. I am a visual composer of my craft and that I create because this is how I breathe.
I get a satisfying feeling when I watch the viewer viewing my art and allowing the process to happen. My art is somewhat complex at times but interesting in its intention. If art creates involvement in a study then that’s the beginning and if the art holds your attention in discovery then that’s part of recovery in it’s own way. By seeking these answers brings me to this understanding. I have created an element for speaking visually and it has placed the viewing in a moment of connecting with something that made them still or caused them to be paused. There is a beauty in silence as well and one can find a healing when they are open to being still.
To see Al Johnson’s work, please visit:
–as told to yvette caslin