Artist Jay Johansen
Born in 1946 and raised by his artist-father in Oakland, California, portrait artist Jay Johansen, began his journey into the art world at a very young age. His father, Melvin Johansen, was a respected artist who struggled to make ends meet, working tirelessly with little nancial reward. Seeing that harsh reality left a lasting impression upon Jay who often joined his father in the studio to create his own work.
The young Johansen honed his skills at such an astonishing rate that when he was an eighth-grad-er, his father asked if he wanted to be an artist. Clearly passionate about his talent, Jay briey contemplated the idea. However, he’d been living through hard times with his father and decided to pursue an education.
Jay graduated from Cal Berkeley at age 20 and went on to earn an MBA from San Francisco State University. He also served as an officer in the US Army. Jay landed a position with an insurance rm and rapidly rose in the ranks. At 26, he opened his own insurance agency and grew a successful\ enterprise within 6 years, allowing him to pursue the passion he’d come to know as a child.
Working incessantly to perfect his skills, Jay mastered a hyper-photorealism style, which he thought of as the pinnacle that would earn him respect in the art world. Painting ballerinas, matadors, and Hawaiian dancers, Jay established an international collector base, which ultimately led to commissioned paintings of music icons, world dignitaries, as well as a long list of celebrity collectors.
After a brief hiatus, Jay returned to painting full-time in his studio, creating figurative paintings that were difficult to distinguish from photographs. However, reflecting upon his childhood during the ‘50s and ‘60s in Oakland, he recalled many urban scenes that were painted on buildings—artwork that conveyed social messages, as well as other works that simply displayed the imagination of tremendously talented artists whom most will never know. Jay’s creative juices were sparked, leading him to study urban artists of the past as well as up-and-coming artists of today. Desiring to pay homage to these brilliant painters, Jay gave birth to his “Fusion Art” series, a new form of artistic interpretation that brought Jay back to his days in Berkeley. He was expressing an untethered technique vastly different from the exacting techniques of the past decades.
Today, Jay enlivens monochromatic faces of women with vivid colors that seem to bring life to the canvas. Using broad strokes, as distinct from his previous style, Jay enjoys a freedom he’s never felt as a professional artist, imbued with an energy of renewal that allows him to create art as he did when he was a child in his father’s studio. The “Fusion Art” series will form a significant portion of this American Artist’s history.
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