Daniel Johnston: Welcome to My World

Art, Drawing and illustration Free
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 (Daniel Johnston, 'Untitled', 1995 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory)
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Daniel Johnston, 'Untitled', 1995 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory
 (Daniel Johnston, 'Captain America, the Duck & the Frog', 2009 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory)
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Daniel Johnston, 'Captain America, the Duck & the Frog', 2009 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory
 (Peter Juhl, 'Daniel Johnston backstage', 2010 / © Peter Juhl / Courtesy Arts Factory)
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Peter Juhl, 'Daniel Johnston backstage', 2010 / © Peter Juhl / Courtesy Arts Factory
 (Daniel Johnston, 'Selfportrait with Laurie', 1995 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory)
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Daniel Johnston, 'Selfportrait with Laurie', 1995 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory
 (Daniel Johnston, 'Hulk Feel Lonely Inside', 2012 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory)
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Daniel Johnston, 'Hulk Feel Lonely Inside', 2012 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory
 (Daniel Johnston, 'Travelling Time', 2001 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory)
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Daniel Johnston, 'Travelling Time', 2001 / © Daniel Johnston / Courtesy Arts Factory

Having gone from distributing demos of his music while working at McDonald's to exhibiting his artwork in galleries the world over, Texan painter/singer Daniel Johnston is a true zero-to-hero case in the contemporary art world. His melodic, strangely naive music combines the best of Kurt Cobain (who was an early champion of his work) and Brian Wilson. As for his drawings and paintings, they channel the scratchy urgency that defines much of art brut – the art of the unconventional outsider.

Whether using felt pens, biros or watercolours, Johnston conveys an impulsive mania throughout his oeuvre. Biblical tropes sit chaotically alongside references to American comics and humorous cartoon animals, the whole brought to life by splashes of primary colours. Yet these remarkable works are no children's illustrations – they conceal a deeply troubled spirit that has had to deal with schizophrenia, bipolar episodes and the conformist mores of a society in which it will always be considered an outsider, a loser. Even if he gets exhibited in Paris.

By: MD/ADdW

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