Artist Leroi C. Johnson
“ Through oils and acrylics, I fuse abstract themes and subtle commentaries with African influences in order to create, bright, large scale,colorful and original paintings"
LeRoi Callwell Johnson of Buffalo, New York known just as “LeRoi” has been presenting his artistry for more than 45 years, utilizing his varied thematic tones to craft consistently eye-catching and aesthetically pleasant art forms.
As Mr. Johnson defines his artistic expression as “electric primitive”, his awareness is rooted in the very minimal formal training that he received in a commercial art class while matriculating in the academically oriented Hutchinson Central Technical High School in Buffalo, New York. His interest in drawing and painting was nurtured during his student years, as he oftentimes utilized this hobby as an outlet for balancing his career aspirations at the time. While at Georgetown University Law School in Washington, D.C., it appears that his amateurish instinct culminated into the seeds of his prolific expressionism, having created several innovative geometric paintings during the height of this form’s popularity. Similarly, a large portion of this artwork would be represented in his first major one-man show in the future.
He pinpoints his residency in Washington, DC during the 1970’s as the stimulus for his entrée into an Art world where his mediums and subjects has evolved and paralleled the times. While employed as a senior executive with District of Columbia government, he had occasion to patronize many of the city’s world-class collections influencing his creative impulses as well, as formulating his appreciation for art history. Resultantly, during this era, he participated in the expansion of the city’s prolific collection by co-founding the Museum of the City of Washington, DC.
With his departure from the District of Columbia, he endured somewhat of a creative hiatus perhaps internalizing his artistic inclinations to travel the world and meet the budding generation of the global world culture. This self-discovery period occurred during the years of 1981-1994.
In 1994, LeRoi returned to painting utilizing a form, which blended modernism, pan-africanism, and geometric forms in colorful symbolism.
In 1996, LeRoi officially re-introduced his art to the public with the informality of it being showcased in a hair salon owned by his close friend and mentor, Jon Simon. By virtue of the popularity of this salon, LeRoi enjoyed great exposure and receptiveness during this display. One of the salon patrons was Don Metz, then, Director of the Burchfield Penney Art Gallery in Buffalo, a relatively new and growing museum which focused on Western New York artists, with its namesake, Charles Burchfield being instrumental in its development. With Mr. Metz’s leadership, Mr. Johnson’s first One-Man Show was exhibited at Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a first art show for both Mr. Johnson and the Partnership. This exhibition, which featured many of Mr. Johnson’s geometric painting from the Georgetown period, was successful and became the impetus for future gallery exhibits for Mr. Johnson.
SELECTED ONE-PERSON EXHIBITIONS:
John Simon’s Hair Salon, Buffalo, New York 1996
Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Buffalo, New York 1998
Fiddleheads, Buffalo, New York 1999
Buffalo and Erie County Arts Council, Buffalo, New York 2000
1120 Main Gallery Buffalo, New York October 2013- March 2014
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS:
Joy Museum of the Burchfield Penney Art Center
Theodore Roosevelt House, Buffalo, New York
Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, New York
Canisius College, Buffalo, New York
Marcy Casino, Buffalo, New York
Archivo National do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Abdias do Nascimento Memoria Viva, 2004
Galeria Athos Bulcao, Brasilia, Brasil, Abdias do Nascimento Memoria Viva 2006
Caixa Cultura do Salvador, Bahia, Brasil, Abdias do Memoria Viva, Conferencia de Intelectuais Africanos e da Diaspora 2006
Casa de Cultura de Marica, Brasil Memoria Abdias do Nascimento 2011
Campos dos Goytacozes, Brasil 2012
Agora Gallery, New York, New York
Houston Jazz Festival, Texas 2010
Piazza Bourguesse, Florence, Italy, 2013
Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 2013
Miami Red Dot Fair, 2014
The Castle Estense, Arttour International Masters, Ferrara, Italy 2015
Archivo National do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, New York
Canisius College, Buffalo, New York
Roswell Park Memorial Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York
J.D, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, 1974
B.S., Canisius College, Buffalo, New York, 1971
University of Buffalo, School of Architecture and Urban Design 1970
One of Mr. Johnson’s affectionados describes his work as follows:
“LeRoi art is bright, colorful, symbolic and original. He copies no other artist and has become an accomplished, sophisticated artist with his best work still to come.” -Dr. Albert L. Michaels Department of History SUNY at Buffalo