Born in Oakland, California in 1946 and raised by his artist-father, Melvin Johansen, portrait artist Jay Johansen began his journey into the art world at a very young age. His father, a respected artist who struggled to make ends meet, worked tirelessly with little nancial reward. The harsh reality of living in poverty left a lasting impression upon Jay who often created his own work in his father’s studio.
The young Johansen honed his skills at such an astonishing rate, his father asked him if he wanted to be an artist when he was in the eighth grade. Clearly passionate about his talent, Jay briey contemplated the idea. However, he decided to pursue education as a means of attaining a better lifestyle.
Jay graduated from Cal Berkeley at age 20 and went on to earn an MBA from San Francisco State University. Also serving as an ocer in the US Army, his exceptional education allowed him to remain stateside during the Vietnam War. Later, 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. The path was then cleared to pursue the passion he’d come to know as a child.
After retirement at 39, Jay returned to painting full-time in his studio, creating gurative paintings that are dicult to distinguish from photographs. Working incessantly to perfect his skills, he mastered a hyper-photorealism style he believed to be the pinnacle that would earn him respect in the art world. With his renderings of ballerinas, matadors, and Hawaiian dancers, Jay established an international collector base, including a long list of celebrity collectors, which ultimately led to commissioned paintings of music icons and world dignitaries.
Reecting upon his childhood during the ‘50s and ‘60s, Jay recalled several urban scenes that graced the walls of city buildings. Those works of art not only conveyed social messages but also showcased the imagination of tremendously talented artists whom most will never know. His creative juices sparked, Jay studied urban artists of the past as well as up-and-coming artists of today. In homage to these brilliant painters, he gave birth to his “Fusion Art” series, a form of artistic interpretation that hearkens back to his time spent in Berkeley. His new untethered technique vastly diers from the exacting methods of past decades.
Today, Jay enlivens monochromatic faces with vivid colors that bring life to the canvas. As distinct from his previous style, he uses broad strokes and enjoys a freedom he’s never felt as a professional artist. Imbued with an energy of renewal, he now creates art with the same fervor he experienced as a child in his father’s studio.
The Fusion Art series is a signicant portion of this American Artist’s history.
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