Art News

In Celebration of Black History Month — Barry Johnson

To commemorate the importance of Black History Month this February, Saatchi Art will be featuring 3 prominent artists that are redefining our contemporary art world. For artist Barry Johnson his art practice explores multiple modes of storytelling using unconventional mediums. His artistic influences include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francis Bacon and Marina Abramovic as well as soul music and the colors and sounds of his youth in the 80s and 90s.

“All of my paintings are made with house paint. I have an on-going series of combination works that pair paint with other mediums. In those, I’m taking found objects and using them to cover up the faces or to block out parts of the canvas. The covering, distortion and blocking of faces deals with how black people have had our history covered up, distorted and blocked to fit another party’s narrative.” — Barry Johnson

“Untitled 145,” by Barry Johnson via Saatchi Art

Seattle-based multimedia artist Barry Johnson graduated from Emporia State University in Kansas with a degree in Business Marketing. After working with the American Red Cross and within the tech industry, he decided to become a full-time artist. His work is spread across several mediums, including portraits, photography, installations, sculpture and performance art. Barry paints purely with house paint and often incorporates 3D objects such as shards of a broken mirror and duct tape to add more grit, tactility and personality to his work. He has shown works at the Seattle Art Fair, the Venice Experimental Video and Performance Art Festival in Italy and has public works at the Museum of Flight and Pioneer Square Station in Seattle, Washington.

Love reading about all things art? You can have articles from Canvas, curated collections, and stories about emerging artists delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for the Saatchi Art Newsletter.

About the Author

Aurora Garrison is the Artist Community & Curation Manager at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact our free Art Advisory service at