Photo: Isak Nilson
Michael Johansson uses found material and often objects that he collects in the surroundings of where he will exhibit. Despite the number of objects he merges into his three-dimensional works, there’s a fascinating cohesion which comes from the distinct and systematic structure.
The works have a clear geometric shape like a cube or rectangle and are arranged in different color schemes that tend to be in a monochrome palette.
The material for his sculptures is related to the private sphere, such as kitchen layouts, chest of drawers, cabinets, bags, instruments, appliances, binders, things that Johansson, like an archaeologist, collects, assembles and uses as building blocks to create a structure.
Johansson makes both free standing and site-specific installations. For example, in the latter group, he fills spaces like niches, alcoves, the space where two buildings meet, a part of a room, under a staircase, on a facade; he builds out cavities, fills in and adds new elements that reformulate the architecture. In these works, thoughts go to the American artist Gordon Matta-Clark who redefined space and architecture, but in his case, he removed pieces of space, cut buildings in two, to occasionally present elements of the erased objects as sculptures.
In Johansson's free-standing object, often placed on the floor, one can also see references to American minimalism, but where minimalism is characterized by the fact that the work refers only to itself and no reality beyond, Johansson's work is bursting with potential stories of existential nature. The recognizable items awake memories and it is easy to begin to fantasize about the origin of the objects and their previous owner. Parallel with the familiar there is also something grueling and mysterious – when these things are taken out of their natural context to be placed together in new ones, their function becomes uncertain and they turn into something else, more omnipotent and appealingly incomprehensible.
Michael Johansson was born in Trollhättan, Sweden in 1975 and is currently based in Berlin. After studies at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Arts (BFA) in Norway and Malmö Art Academy (MFA) in Sweden, he has had an intensive and growing international career. A selection of solo exhibitions includes Projektcontainern, Nationalmuseum Design, Kulturhuset, Stockholm (SE), Göteborgs Konstmuseum, Göteborg (SE), Akershus Kunstsenter and Vigelandsmuseet (NO), Massimo Carasi – The Flat, Milano (IT), Helsinki Contemporary, Helsinki (FI), Maison Hermès WD, Tokyo (JP), Museum Voorlinden (NL) and group exhibitions at Bergen Kunstmuseum (NO), Royal British Society of Sculptors, London (UK), Malmö Konstmuseum, Malmö (SE), Moscow Museum of Modern Art (RU) and Koganecho Bazaar, in Yokohama (JP).