Friends & Heroes

Johnny’s standing in the film world has meant that he has frequently met and worked with his ‘Heroes’: high profile and fascinating characters like Elizabeth Taylor and Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny’s character and easy-going humour has meant that these working relationships often turned into firm friendships. A very good example of a hero turned friend is Elizabeth Taylor. Johnny knew Elizabeth well for a number of years. He found her hilarious, and she regarded him as ‘cute’, while respecting his ‘great range’ as an actor.

‘Friends and Heroes’ is Johnny’s debut collection of limited edition art. The collection features people he has known well, and who have inspired him as a person. Each portrait captures how he sees that subject. How they revealed themselves to him.

Across the four images in the debut collection we see ‘Friends and Heroes’ with four very different characters, portrayed as very different people. In the Keith Richards image we can see a hero of the buccaneering, anti-establishment sort: and the inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow. In complete contrast, with Bob Dylan we see a handsome and heroic artist at the height of his powers, but whose head is bowed; with his eyes and ears open to the issues of humanity. With Al Pacino, Johnny’s image reflects their closeness, and his regard for Al as a sensitive and caring man; albeit with a touch of craziness. While in the iconic Elizabeth Taylor portrait the focus is on her eyes and lips, features at the core of her appeal, and the features most strongly recalled by Johnny.

Stylistic Influences

Johnny’s very fluent, expressive art is in the style of the artists we recognise as Neo-Expressionists. Artists in this movement abandon any sense of wanting to imitate nature and instead seek to express their emotional experience in art centred around their emotions and inner turmoils. Neo-Expressionist art, just like Johnny’s art, is characterised by intense subjectivity, highly textural applications of paint and other materials, vividly contrasting colours and imagery that tells a story.  

Influences on Johnny’s art have included working alongside the noted Neo-Expressionist American painter and film-maker Julian Schnabel, and his early recognition of the genius of anther Neo-Expressionist: Jean-Michel Basquiat.

About the Collection

Working from photographic references each image in Johnny's debut collection has been stripped back to a simpler and iconic portrayal of the subject, which Johnny has then developed and energised with his characteristic freehand flourishes. Johnny's art exists at the intersection of 'Pop Art' and 'Street Art'. Recognisable images of people in popular culture are recast in vibrant, bright colours, and overlayed with the energy and wit of Street Art. The result is a series of iconic images of media figures that have moved beyond the impersonal graphic simplicity of Pop Art. It's Pop Art with feeling.

This collection titled ‘Friends & Heroes’ includes intimate portraits of Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Al Pacino, and Elizabeth Taylor. Released as a framed set of four, each artwork features vivid colours, striking lines, and lively flourishes. Visit the link below to view this collection of artwork.

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