Christopher Lowry Johnson
The Crowd Was Mute And Moveless
March 19 to April 19, 2004
Opening: Friday, March 19, 2004, 7 – 9 Pm

Plus Ultra is very pleased to present “The Crowd Was Mute And Moveless,” our second solo exhibition by New York artist Christopher Lowry Johnson. In this powerful new series of painting, Johnson expands his exploration of the inherent bankruptcy within material and spiritual excess. Focused again on a very American sense of desire, he has broadened his investigation to include our role in recent global events. Viewed through Johnson’s distinctive co-opting of pan-art-historical allegory and approaches to painting, the crossroads where America’s vulnerability intersects with our hunger for abundance provide a rich source for this provocative critique.
The large canvases in this exhibition vary greatly in tone, density, and style, quoting from rococo painting, fairy tales, rock music imagery, epic poetry, and popular culture. This disparity of motifs emphasizes the wish that they not be read as one statement, but that they reflect the complexity and inconsistencies within the world’s current state of affairs. “The Crowd Was Mute and Moveless,” is a quote from a poem by Shelley, and, although whether Johnson’s critique is read as “romantic” falls to the individual viewer, he does reference the romantic’s fascination with middle eastern themes and textures.
Commanding attention among the paintings is “crusader,” an intense and colorful work based on the “I Dream Of Jeanie” TV show. Set in the plush magic bottle dwelling of the title character (a native of Baghdad), “crusader” presents a moment of surprise as a group of nativity figurines comes to live and unleashes a muscular blue genie from his bottle. A young American man—playing with the Arab figurines and American toy soldiers, while virtually drowning in the pool of treasures around him—and the friendly, iconographic Jeanie fall back, astonished at the sudden intrusion of this idealized character into their domestic drama. In “idle beauty,” a nude woman stands innocently at the foot of a large strong tree in which dozens of bizarre characters are busily draining it of sap. Even a huge rock nearby is assaulted and tapped for the valued resources it contains. Seemingly unaware of what is happening around her, the woman dreamily contemplates some small object in her hands. And dream-like, somewhat sleepy expressions on the seven dwarves (and an odd assortment of others) in “the grape heap” betray the encroaching peril as they’re buried under a mountain of luscious fruit. Out head of the juicy heap, an ostensibly ambivalent snow white holds an apple she’s eaten down to the core. And in the airy “intoxicated crusader (after Tiepolo),” based on the 18th century artist’s depiction of “Rinaldo enchanted by Armida, the updated seductress reclines on a mount of treasure, apparently complicit with the forces she’s supposedly fighting against. Rinaldo remains transfixed by his own reflection, while Disney-esque bluebirds lift his lover’s flowing skirt to reveal odd characters cavorting underneath.

For more information, contact us at 718-387-3844 or info@plusultragallery.com

Christopher Lowry Johnson
The Crowd Was Mute and Moveless
March 19 to April 19, 2004
Opening: Friday, March 19, 2004, 7 – 9 Pm

Christopher Lowry Johnson

The Crowd Was Mute and Moveless
March 19 - April 19, 2004
Opens March 19, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Works

The Grape Heap

Christopher Lowry Johnson, The Grape Heap, 2004


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