Lena Johansson has been widely acclaimed for her small, intense oil paintings with motifs derived from lifestyle media. Her lush, sensuous brush technique creates a glossy, desirable image that extends, and comments on, the shiny commercial—and fashionable—imagery much of her work is based on.
In her latest body of work, she uses the very same materials inherent in the world where she draws inspiration for her practice: fashion and life-style photography. Instead of using the traditional canvas and stretchers, her paintings are now made directly on simple white T-shirts and jeans. She uses gesso to create a surface to paint on, and then work with oil color. In contrast to the painted image, the T-shirts are quite imperfect and rough, showing traces of the painting process with drips and stains and spots and dirty fingerprints and even holes from the staples, because the fabric is so fragile.
Installed together with paintings and drawings on found material such as plywood and plexi they are all independent works while simultaneously forming a visual story focusing on the gap between painting, reality and fiction and the transition of a commercialized image into a painting.
I am really interested in fashion photography and commercial imagery. My opinion is that they are deeply essential, they talk to our dreams and our desires, and they really know how to catch our deepest longings. I think these images are deeply human and speak to our need for beauty, seduction, sexuality, flirtation—all that belongs to us. It is ours to take. When preparing for a painting, I see a photograph as any other object—like a cup or a hat—and I feel free to examine it through painting. I am interested to see what will happen to this imagery as it filters through me and the painting process, which changes its medium and context. Lena Johansson
Lena Johansson (b. 1975) lives and works inSweden. She has previously exhibited at institutions such as Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Vestfossen, Norway, Moderna Museet, Malmö, Sweden and YstadsKonstmuseum, Sweden