SERIGRAPHS 1959-1979

DECEMBER 1-4 2016






Imperfect Reality with Figures and Challenging Abstraction


The Conversation, Berlin is pleased to present Imperfect Reality with Figures and Challenging Abstraction, a solo installation by American artist Chris Johanson. This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in Berlin. His multifaceted output includes painting, drawing, sculpture, and music. He is renowned for immersive installations that depict the hope and despair of contemporary life as we deal with the crushing conformity of modern existence. His exhibition with The Conversation will be comprised of new paintings and works on paper made with recycled materials. Johanson’s work has blended a simple, unschooled style with an exuberant sense of color and a playful but sharply critical edge. These new works bringing to focus themes exploring the delicate balance between nature and technology. 


While a good deal of Chris Johanson’s recent works have been firmly rooted in abstraction, for this exhibition Johanson will shift direction to more explore the figurative as well. Johanson is a keen observer of contemporary life. He views his practice as an exploration of painting as an artifact of how life is lived; and the notion of art as a nexus at which nature, culture, and self come together. Johanson’s artworks have a poetic quality, communicating moods or states of mind through his saturated palette. Whether abstract or figurative, his work expresses the artist's strong beliefs in environmentalism, compassion, and peaceful co-existence. For the past twenty-five years, Johanson has exhibited his work across the United States and the world, developing a vast creative universe that considers humanity in all its forms. The influence of Johanson’s diverse artistic practice on a younger generation cannot be overstated. His interdisciplinary approach shapes a unique cosmology that continues to inspire a greater consideration of art and life.


Chris Johanson was born in San Jose, California in 1968. He was part of a community of artists formed in San Francisco’s Mission District in the late 1990s, and gained widespread attention for his participation in the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Johanson has exhibited widely in museums and galleries internationally over the past decade. He has had solo exhibitions at museums including the Malmö Konsthall, 2011; Portland Art Museum, 2007; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2003; and the UCLA Hammer Museum, 2001. His notable group exhibitions include Dialogue of Hands, Glasgow International 2012; A New York Minute, Depart Foundation, Rome, Italy; the 2006 Berlin Biennale, Germany; the 2005 Istanbul Biennial, Turkey; Monuments for the USA, CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati and Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA.


Chris Johanson, a retrospective monograph was published in 2013 by Phaidon.

Peter Shire
rosson crow
cali thornhill-dewitt
geoff mcfetridge
chris johanson
johanna jackson
alexis ross
kenny scharf
amanda charchian
brian roettinger
deanna templeton

APRIL 30 – AUGUST 31, 2016


Opening Reception: Friday, April 29th at 7pm



Gallery Hours: Thursday to Saturday 1 – 6pm and by appointment

Is it true what they say about Los Angeles, that Los Angeles

  is erratic,

That in the sweet national symphony of common sense Los Angeles

  is static?

Yes, it’s true. Los Angeles is not only erratic, not only erotic;

Los Angeles is crotchety, centrifugal, vertiginous, esoteric, and


Many people blame the movies and the movie-makers for Los

   Angeles’ emotional rumpus,

But they are mistaken; it is the compass.

Certainly Los Angeles is a cloudburst of non-sequiturs, and of

   logic a drouth,

But what can you expect of a city that is laid out east and west,

   instead of north and south?

            -from “Don’t Shoot Los Angeles” by Ogden Nash

We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve heard the city of Los Angeles described as nothing more than and endless strip of concrete boulevards and suburban blight all strung together by an random smattering of convenience stores. This statement is usually presented in the context of some kind criticism and is usually spoken by someone who hasn’t spent much time there. There’s been quite a bit written about art in Los Angeles over the past few years and while a good deal of it is interesting, from our experience, most of it barely scratches the surface. If you look hard enough, there are real treasures to be found there. Yes, some of it is being shown in the galleries and museums or are the products of the thrawl of hot young things spewing out of the city’s numerous art schools, but not all of it. In our opinion, the real beauty of the creative scene in LA exists outside of the expected venues. Artists across the city are bubbling up from beneath the sheen of Hollywood (ignoring it actually), in favor of creating lives and art and music and design that exists strictly for the benefit of the scenes it affects. When you stop comparing Los Angeles to the rest of the world and see it for the flawed and beautiful and wild animal that it is, the skies (and the boulevards) literally open up and suddenly there’s a feast of inspiration that, in our opinion, is unrivaled in America.



Peter Shire (born 1947, Los Angeles, California) does not reject the rich heritage of twentieth century art, and references to Bauhaus, Futurism, Art Nouveau or Art Deco are to be ground throughout his work. However, his art dismisses a facile linear trajectory and replaces nostalgic connotations with eclectic playfulness and subtle irony. One of the original members of the Milan-based Memphis group, Shire has challenged the rigidity of modernist vocabulary and has boldly articulated a novel languages defined by an unexpected visual dialogue between forms and surfaces and between technology and aesthetics. It is precisely this aspect of his art that has established him as one of the essential contributors to the postmodern critical debate.


Rosson Crow (born 1982, Dallas, Texas) studied at Yale and the School of Visual Art before serving a one-year residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Now in Los Angeles, her work is celebrated for her exuberant large-scale depictions of nostalgia-laden interiors that blend historical allusion and theatrical illusion. The paintings evoke the good times of yesteryear, with lush interiors that are always deserted, yet speak eloquently of recent use and inhabitation. The sense of loss is counterbalanced by the richness of textures, patterns, and references and especially by vibrant, clashing colors. The work also stands out for its hallucinogenic spaces, with interiors fracturing and distorting from realistic representation into abstraction and surrealism, and “teetering,” as she puts it, “between claustrophobic and agoraphobic.”


Cali Thornhill Dewitt (born 1973, Vancouver Islands, Canada) lives and works in Los Angeles. He is a multidisciplinary artist and eclectic instigator.  His iconic text and image based work instantly reminds us of the economic inequality that exists and is growing in the world, where less have more and more have less. At the same time the work has a contrasting empowerment – signaling independence, survival and opposition. This duality is typical for Dewittʼs practice that juxtaposes imagery culled from the internet and other archival sources with word plays lifted from news headlines, spam mail, advertising slogans, street lingo, mundane phrases and a myriad of other influences. In the same tradition as Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, John Giorno, the work offers reflection, social critique and engagement. 


Geoff McFetridge (born 1971, Calgary, Canada) creates graphic images in fine lines and bold colors, playing with repetition, perspective, and simplicity. Examining the fundamental elements of the visual language, the work offers the viewer an opportunity to play with a puzzle for a moment, a puzzle that doesn’t have one simple answer. Often imitated—but never equaled—McFetridge has created unique imagery in both his personal and commercial work and commissions, which is detailed and abstract at the same time. Full of hands, teeth, objects, shapes, animals, and heads, McFetridge won public acclaim when he was still a student winning awards from the Art Directors Club and International Design Magazine for his thesis project Chinatown. He maintains a studio in Atwater Village, Los Angeles.


Husband and wife duo, Chris Johanson (born 1968, San Jose, California) and Johanna Jackson (born 1972, Springfield, Massachusetts), have been collaborating on projects that explore total aesthetic environments at the threshold of art and design--made chiefly from recycled materials. Together they create a domestic interior objects comprised of furniture, textiles, ceramics, drawings, and paintings. Johanson and Jackson each have separate careers in addition to working collaboratively. Chris Johanson is renowned for installations and paintings that depict the hope and despair of contemporary life as we deal with the crushing conformity of modern existence. Johanna Jackson’s recent work involves designing and knitting garments, creating abstract wall hangings, and ceramics. The dark part of her work is also the light, as it involves freedom, bravery, and humility and a willingness to experiment in multiple mediums.

Alexis Ross (born 1972, Los Angeles, California) is an artist who’s story is one of history, frankness, and colorful nostalgia. He works in a variety of mediums including sign painting, photography, homemade tattoos and playing potsey on the nickel. Ross is a skilled raconteur and proficient in the local vernacular of the Los Angeles region. In the bleak environs of greater Hollywood, where the visual pollution of ubiquitous billboards and business advertising become redundant and void of substance, just like the meaningless titles and job descriptions of its commonly accepted inhabitants, Ross scratches a little deeper. Tapping into the deeply rooted and rich traditions of the mass of Los Angeles’ largely overlooked communities and economies, Alexis’ unique craft subtly emerges as a distinctly unique voice. 


Amanda Charchian (born 1990, Los Angeles California) earned a BFA in Fine Art from Otis College. Her analog aesthetic blurs boundaries and creates a multimedia experience that blends appreciation for the beauty of nature. In the case of her photography, revelation is the goal. Preferring to use other female artists as her subjects, it is a desire to construct timelessness that inspires her to photograph nudes. Nudity and eroticism are commonly joined conceptually, but Charchian cleverly asserts that clothing is often the culprit in over-sexed societies. Charchian is an investigator of “the state of alienation through realms of the physical, psycho-social, and spiritual human condition.” Although it is not her specific intent to be provocative, Charchian is a rebellious insurgent within a constrictive culture, battling for openness in an otherwise restrictive society. 


The work of graphic designer/artist Brian Roettinger (born 1977, Los Angeles, California) is an uncanny union of punk ideology with a conceptually driven mode of modernist design. He frequently employs architectural strategies in his works such as repetition and structure (think die-cuts and folds), while subverting this sense of order by manipulating the production process in unexpected or “wrong” ways. Educated at CalArts, his most recent body of sculpural work consists of reprinted and altered announcements for historical contemporary art exhibitions. The works speak to reproducibility, authorship, or simulacra in that through the process of their making, they engage specifically with the discarded marginal histories of graphic design as aesthetic and material commodities to be valued, collected, preserved, and violated.

Deanna Templeton (born 1969, Huntington Beach, California) grew up in the suburban sprawl of Orange County and spent her early years going to any and all punk shows she could in Los Angeles. After returning home from a one-night runaway her Mother bought her a camera as a coming home present. This was 1985 and the start of her photographic career. Largely self-taught, she started in 2002 making a series of self published 'zines called "Blue Kitten Photos." Since then, she has shown her photographs in galleries and museums worldwide including solo shows at the Museum Het Domein, Netherlands, NRW Forum, Dusseldorf, and the Schucnk Museum, Netherlands. Her newest series of photographs, The Swimming Pool, documents multiple subjects over the course of many years as they gracefully swim nude in her backyard pool.

Kenny Scharf (born 1958, Hollywood, California) first came to artistic prominence in the early 1980s in New York, along with artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Scharf placed his bright imagery, drawn from television and pop culture, on the streets and in nightclubs of the city, helping to nurture a dynamic and freewheeling scene. Scharf self-describes his art Pop Surrealism. One very important and guiding principle in his work is to reach out beyond the elitist boundaries of fine art and connect to popular culture. In his words, “My personal ambition has always been to live the example. I believe the artist has a social responsibility to engage others in a thought process that ultimately brings art into everyday life thereby enhancing the quality of our experience." Since the early-2000's, Scharf has maintained a studio in Los Angeles.


OCTOBER 15, 2020 - JUNE 30, 2021

Kahlil Joseph is an American filmmaker, music video director, and video artist. Joseph is known for creating intellectually and emotionally dense short films that center on the experience of African Americans in the United States. BLKNWS, is a conceptual news program taking the form of a two-channel installation connected to a newscast that blurs the lines between art, reporting, entrepreneurship, and cultural critique. The exhibition was located on the second floor of a 1920’s art-deco building in the heart of Hollywood, presented in partnership with LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) in conjunction with the UCLA Hammer Museum for their biennial exhibition “Made In LA” 2020.