My guest this week is painter and street artist Criminy Johnson. He has a new show of paintings up at The Active Space here in Bushwick called Dreaming Without Sleeping, curated by Robin Gearson. Criminy’s figurative paintings depict scenes of people and animals taken from his everyday experience and childhood memories. Human and animal characters are given equal weight in these paintings, and both are often rendered with unusually large, expressive eyes. In one painting a group of frogs stares at us from behind the glass of a tank. The signage in the corner of the painting reveals that the amphibians are being sold as food, rather than pets. Another painting called, Formative Years, shows a young boy in ferocious hand to hand combat with a chicken. The boy chokes the bird as he’s held in its yellow talons. Dreaming Without Sleeping also features an eight-foot-tall wall mural in the style of Criminy’s wheatpasted street posters, which he makes under the name QRST.
I met up with Criminy at The Active Space in Bushwick to talk about his exhibition, how he began painting animals, and how his street art relates to his paintings. His exhibition is on view through April 20th.
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