Simen Johan

November 3 – December 23, 2011

 Simen Johan

Yossi Milo Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new photographs and sculpture by Simen Johan. The exhibition will open on Thursday, November 3, and close on Friday, December 23, with an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, November 3, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. This is the artist’s seventh exhibition at the gallery.

Photographs from Simen Johan’s ongoing project, Until the Kingdom Comes, depict an unsettling natural world hovering between reality, fantasy and nightmare. Johan merges traditional photographic and sculptural techniques with digital methods. Having originally photographed a variety of plants and animals in natural preserves, zoos, farms, museum dioramas or his own studio, the artist then resituates them digitally into new environments constructed from images photographed elsewhere.

In his work, Johan creates tension and blurs the boundaries between opposing forces, such as the familiar and the otherworldly, the natural and the artificial, the serene and the eerie. In one photograph, two black-beaked flamingos intertwine in an embrace that seems at once affectionate and restricting. In another, two hapless caribou lie glazed with ice, frozen in a scene that is both tranquil and brutal. Exploring the paradoxical nature of existence, the artist situates his images between an ideal paradise and a reality complicated by desires, fears and darker instincts.

While some photographs in the series reference Biblical motifs, Johan says that his choice of title, Until the Kingdom Comes, “refers less to religious or natural kingdoms and more to the human fantasy that one day, in some way, life will come to a blissful resolution. …In a reality where understanding is not finite and in all probability never will be, I depict ‘living’ as an emotion-fueled experience, engulfed in uncertainty, desire and illusion.”

A solo exhibition, Simen Johan: Until the Kingdom Comes, was organized by the Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville and traveled to the 21c Museum in Louisville, KY, and the Pollock Gallery at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Mr. Johan’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; Museet for Fotokunst, Brandts, Denmark; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Denver Art Museum, among others. Mr. Johan received the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2009. He was born in Norway in 1973, raised in Sweden and lives and works in New York City.

This will be the last exhibition at the gallery’s current space at 525 West 25th Street. In January 2012, Yossi Milo Gallery will be moving to a new gallery space in Chelsea.