Whitehot Magazine

The Distorted Realities of Johan Wahlstrom by Noah Becker

Johan Wahlstrom, #48, 2020, oil on canvas, 74 x 74 inches

Johan Wahlstrom
Distorted Realities
Georges Bergès Gallery, New York, NY 
Sept. 24th - October 3rd, 2020
Opening Sept. 24th, 2020 6-8pm

By NOAH BECKER September, 2020

I’ve been a fan (and more recently a friend) of New York based, Swedish born painter Johan Wahlstrom. A new show of Wahlstrom's work is opening at Soho's Georges Bergès Gallery in New York City.

Wahlstrom, who has been on the scene in New York City for years, makes paintings that avoid simple explanations or labels. His approach is not what I would call pure abstraction, because he often integrates figurative elements into his compositions. Wahlstrom is making a kind of hybrid figuration and abstraction and stands his ground when labels put on him or his work. Much like Arthur Kwon Lee, who recently opened at Filo Sofi Arts, there’s a balance between figurative work and pure abstraction in Wahlstrom’s art.

Noah Becker: What makes you use certain colors?

Johan Wahlstrom: I like to change the palette of colors and often colors that I use are portraying the feelings of the moment. Color Therapy is well known to improve your mode and get you out of depression.

Johan Wahlstrom, Turmoil, 2020, oil on canvas, 74 x 74 inches

Becker: Why are you making art?

Wahlstrom: Art has been in my blood since childhood and is a necessary part of my life, art is my life. Art has always been my life starting with mother and grandmother, both were artists.

Becker: Do you consider yourself a third stream abstract expressionist or are you nostalgic for that movement?

Wahlstrom: I have always been a big fan of abstract expressionism; I keep a certain nostalgia for this moment and that period of art history. If I am a third stream that is up to others to say…

Becker: “Third stream” is an interesting concept. Would you say that your work relates to "Zombie Formalism" - the term I invented...

Wahlstrom: What I can understand when you talk about "Zombie Formalism" is that it is mainly used for certain experiments with abstract painting and I understand it is the new way of understanding and seeing abstract painting by the new generation of artists. Also my work has sometimes lots of figurative parts or hidden figures inside my paintings, so I would say it is a border line between abstract expressionism and figuration.

Becker: Do you have ultimate goals, or is it one day at a time?

Wahlstrom: My Ultimate goal is to be rich, famous and part of history. I want to be a face for the American Dream. WM


Noah Becker

Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023. 


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Email: noah@whitehotmagazine.com

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