DANIEL JOHNSTON (1961, USA)
Daniel Johnston was born in Sacramento (California), in 1961. He was the fifth child of a religious family and he grows up in West Virginia, learns to play the piano and he began to draw since a very young age. His favourite subjects were the characters of the comic, especially heroes who transfigure his father’s experience as a soldier. When he was graduate he enrolls at Kent State University and he meets Laurie, and Daniel Wrote for her the Songs of Pain, the first of a long list of his tapes recorded on a simple tape recorder.
Quite early impeded by a bipolar disorder whose depressive phases had already manifested during his youth, Johnston leaves the university and he settles in Houston, Texas, where he gains te favors of the artistic and musical scene. Here he gives his first concerts, experiments lsd and undergoes his first hospitalization from which he is discharged with prescription for some mood stabilizers. From this moment, 1996 ca, the life of Daniel was characterized by a regular alternation of depressive and manic phases and by a complex relation to medications which fail to stop the outburst of paranoid-psychotic behaviors: the violent attempt to exorcise an old lady, the vandalizing of the Statue of Liberty with an anti-Satan graffiti, the panic about Satan controlling his father who is piloting the plane.
But he have great success: he recorded his first studio album in 1992 (Artistic Vice) and his art, exhibited since 1997 in collective shows was selected for 2006 Whitney Biennal. From this moment his works are show in galleries around the world.
Photos (© Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milan):
1) If only I believe in love again, 2007, mixed media on paper
2) Last chance to lose nothing, watercolors on paper
3) We spared earth, 2008, pen and markers on paper