Damon Johnson: "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"

13 November 2009 - 12 January 2010

 

As a child, Damon lived in imaginary worlds inspired by his favorite comic books. Comics became not only a friend, but an obsession in his formative years. He learned to draw by copying page after page of Spiderman comics. The origin of his signature style lay across his mother's living room floor in cover-to-cover recreations of his treasured comics. The idea of visually and verbally telling a story intrigued him. A fantasy steeped in reality. Johnson's comic book obsession was redirected during his later adolescence by New York pop art. Damon would frequent the MoMA, driving past Keith Haring's "Crack is Wack" mural in Harlem. Pop art from Warhol to Lichtenstein to Rosenquist became an enormous influence.

 

Johnson's work infuses his comic book and pop art sensibility with the soundtrack of his life. Damon quickly recognized the poetic brilliance of hip-hop. The music moved him. The importance of self expression without compromise manifested in his awkward attempts at break dancing, drunken open mic nights at Nueurican Cafe and writing graffiti throughout New York City. Johnson's paintings have a rhythm and tone heavily influenced by hip-hop. They draw from a broad range of cultural elements to make aggressive, personal expressions.

 

 

Damon's new work incorporates lyrics and song titles that resonated with him at various stages of his life. He illustrates his lyrical narratives with visual samples from dollar bin comics. Forgotten lyrics and discarded images remixed to reveal Damon's world. The works are viciously personal portrayals of Damon's life seen through his savage imagination. They are graphic poetry critically described as Urban Surrealism.