Johan, Simen

Norwegian (1973-)


The unconventional technique of Simen Johan (1973) has been called “painting with pictures.” Each of his final prints comprises as many as 100 images, each of them photographed individually. Johan then works in the darkroom, with scissors and glue or on a digital editing program to pull these disparate images into a new whole. The final result is something both rough-hewn and polished, laying bare the artist’s handiwork while presenting a new alternate reality.

As such, Johan’s work is often about the human tendency to live in a fantasy world, to create fictions that protect, preserve, amuse and distract us. One exhibition, “Until the Kingdom Comes,” depicts animals acting in ways that mimic human behavior. Johan pokes fun at the way we egocentrically project our emotions and mores onto the world around us, sometimes causing the viewer to laugh, at other times eliciting disgust. Other works explore the liberating (and terrifying) world of childhood imagination, critiquing adult discomfort with the unseen and unknown worlds that children often relish.