What We Call Progress Is This Storm
Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present “What We Call Progress Is This Storm,” our fourth solo exhibition by New York artist Christopher Lowry Johnson. In this new body of work, Johnson explores the intersections of modern Americana and American painting through the central themes of ruin, renewal, and remembrance. With imagery sourced in symbols of “modern living”—skyscrapers, satellite images on “Google Maps," suburban neighborhoods, and city scaffolding—Johnson’s richly-layered, mosaic-like paintings blend somber palettes with complex, built-up surfaces resulting in works that convey an intense sense of contained agitation.
Each painting in this new series is a deliberate consequence of imposing on it multiple possible frameworks; the residual history of its surface helping to determine the eventual form of the picture. From the ruins of earlier efforts a new framework is revealed, one that is not as rigid but precarious, more human. The simplest grids are thwarted, subtlety shaken from their rigidity, in some works suggesting that precise moment just before a total implosion in controlled demolitions. Johnson’s images are derived from his contemplating places known and felt, some only half-remembered but from a memory of them like no other. These paintings seem to conjure older forms, modernist and optimistic while simultaneously functioning as an efficacious portrayal of contemporary anxiety.
“Where a chain of events appears before us, He sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it at his feet...But a storm is blowing from Paradise and has got caught in his wings; it is so strong that the angel can no longer close them. This storm drives irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows toward the sky. What we call progress is this storm." ---Walter Benjamin, “On the Concept of History”
Christopher Lowry Johnson received his BFA from the Pennsylvania State University and his M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and reviewed in TimeOut New York, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Contemporary magazine and featured in Harper’s magazine and the book by John Waters and Bruce Hainley, Art: A Sex Book.