Born in Miami Beach in 1961, Darren Johnson has been a South Florida native his entire life. By the mid ’90’s, this self-taught artist was creating functional art made from stone, such as coffee table bases and candle sconces. This early work was influenced by architecture of the day, and his experience building custom interiors. One notable influence was the introduction of the masonry cut nail into Darren’s work. The keystone-like shape of a masonry cut-nail has a classic design that became the building block of his work, and has been used in his representative wall pieces for a few years. A big turn in direction for Darren occurred when an understanding and an appreciation of abstraction began to develop. In Darren’s latest cast bronze series, there is a tangible and passionate energy that can be seen in each of his abstract pieces. The feeling of mutual attraction and fondness captured between the two figures in each of the sculptures, is the essence of what is endearing about Darren’s abstract work. The first piece in this series is titled “The Embrace”, and personifies these emotions in a subtle, and poignant caress.
Darren’s work gained significant attention at the 1st and 2nd annual Sotheby’s Islamorada Fine Art Shows in 2012 and 2013, as well as with private collectors for commissioned work. Darren’s work is currently on display in the permanent collection at The International Gamefish Association’s world headquarters, in Dania, Florida.
Inspired by industrial design from architectural elements, Darren utilizes the masonry cut-nail as the building block of his latest work. The keystone-like shape of the masonry cut-nail is a classic design that lends it’s 3D structure to his sculptures. All of Darren’s art is made of bronze. This copper alloy is known for it’s resistance to corrosion as well as its exceptional beauty. Bronze will “patina” on the surface layer of the sculpture creating color and texture that gives the piece character, but more importantly, the patina, or surface oxidation as it technically known, actually protects the bronze from further oxidation.
It is this quality that gives the piece incomparable endurance, especially in the moist, salt air of coastal communities. Whether it is displayed indoors or on an outdoor patio, Darren’s one-of a-kind art makes an impressive statement that speaks for itself.
There is an underlying theme to all of Darren’s abstract sculpture: He captures the passions we experience in life in each of his pieces. This abstract work is a series of four different sculptures. The concept in this series was to represent a different human emotion through the dynamic interaction between the figures in each of the sculptures. The birth of this concept happened by accident while I was working with 3” nails on a large wall hanging piece. As I reached for a single nail out of a small pile, in order to subsequently weld it into a thought out position in the sculpture, this twisted and bent nail that I pulled out of the group, had another bent nail wrapped around the it. I held up this accidental and unlikely duo and just stared at it with wonder.
At that moment I saw an intimate relationship between two nails- as they embraced and hung on to each other, and I realized that I need to expand on this idea and create a series of larger sculptures based on this concept. While the sophisticated movement in my work may be known as contemporary abstract, the anthropomorphic representation of human emotion is clearly on display in these sculptures.