The Art of Stephen Robert Johns

Galeria Nacional Museo de los Ninos
San Jose, Costa Rica
May 2012

Sebastian Mello
Director, Galeria Nacional

Stephen Robert Johns

Curator Statement

DIVERSOS PAPELES, DIVERSAS PINTURAS is an exhibition representing (4) artists- Three from the US- Fred Bendheim Brooklyn NY, Joseph Piasentin Los Angeles CA & Stephen Robert Johns Los Angeles CA and San Jose Costa Rica and Roberto Lizano, from Costa Rica. Each artist has a common association with their painting- geometry.

Geometry, whether static, as a gridded collage, as a repeat pattern, inspired from nature or from a 2000 year old Pre Colombian design, provides a composition foundation from which the artists in this exhibition build upon. All of the art in this exhibition is on paper. It seems that this is where it all begins, as a doodle, an idea on a napkin, or a sketch on newsprint or a magazine, or as in the case with Stephen Johns' drawings, on airsickness bags. The artwork then evolves to a more refined composition, on a more formal piece of paper or canvas.

Stephen Robert Johns' drawings on airlines' refuse bags document topography seen during his travels, much like a travelogue, passing by at great speeds. The end result is a neat package of a well matted and framed drawings, offering to the viewer Johns' interpretation of what the landscape looks like from 30,000 feet. These drawings also double as a model for paintings on canvas and on hand-made paper.

Roberto Lizano works on paper capturing a repeat pattern design from an ancient Pre Colombian artifact- possibly a stone engraved tribal mace head or a jadite chest pendant, and develops this design into a beautifully colored painting. The inclusion of an angelic, colonial Spanish mask, juxtaposition upon the Pre Colombian motif, makes a definite statement about the indigenous cultural history of Central America and the Spanish Inquisition influence upon that existing population.

Joseph Piasentin works on paper, utilizing refined found objects for collage, in a grid- carefully borrowing ideas of inspiration from his trips abroad, to far away places such as Thailand, Japan and Korea, as well as Costa Rica, including geometric grids, ovals and ellipses, accented with color, paper & fabric, positioned with commitment and confidence, creating a delicately orchestrated abstract painting series.

Fred Bendheim creates colorful paintings on paper, inspired from nature- the spiraling seed pods from a Costa Rican tropical tree, the intensity of the sun on a warm day, the stars so visible on a clear night, inspiring a composition based on what that artist sees at that specific moment. Bendheim adds a repeat pattern of minimal shapes and contrasting colors, & creates subject matter that is abstract, yet identifiable as something we all know or have seen or felt before.

Click here for DIVERSOS PAPELES Postcard


  The Art of Stephen Robert Johns