John Wellington creates intense and uneasy environments by mixing the essence of pop culture with high culture.
He explains his work as follows:
Ever since I can remember I have created my own world through drawing and painting. As a child it was a way I could leave the real world for a little while and have some control over the feelings I experienced. Today I still create worlds with my art, but now they reveal the many contradictory aspects of my hidden self.
The purest themes of my work have been the passing of life and the sensuous and erotic aspects of devotion. My still-lifes and portraits are often composed as shrines or altars. Contrast is an important aspect of my work and I take a diverse collection of objects—turned fruit, religious symbols, erotic images, historical works of art—and bring them together. Although the objects can have a specific purpose when seen on their own, as I paint, their meanings change. An objectified pin-up of a woman might become a muse or goddess and a Buddha might transform into a lustful and happy man. When all the different objects are placed together, a new story unfolds. Occasionally the meanings are clear to me from the outset, but more often they evolve with the paintings.
The technical qualities of my work are an anachronism in the 21st Century. In a world that becomes increasingly digitized, I realize how important the act of painting is for me. I am inspired by the physical qualities of the paint, by the surfaces of copper and wood panel, and by the magic of seeing the painting develop over weeks and months.
The focus of my paintings often shifts with the changes in my life. The process is the art. At times my work has been classical, claustrophobic, fetishistic, beautiful, vulgar, architectural, humorous, morbid, decorative, and sexual. Sometimes it is all of these at once.
Painting for me is a devotional profession. At the best of moments I paint in an enlightened state. This is how I felt as a child.
This video was taken at one of his many openings in NYC:
Born in Santa Monica, California, and raised in Greenwich Village in New York City where he still resides, Wellington received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and his MFA at The New York Academy of Art. His paintings have been in exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Paris. He has also shown at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and The Arnot Museum in New York.