by Chava Krivchenia
As a world traveler, Danny Johananoff is continually fascinated by the distinct combinations of landscapes and cultures. His photography seeks to share stories from his journeys and allow audiences to be transported, if only for a moment. Born in Manchester, England, the artist studied economics at a university in Tel Aviv. For over fifty years, Johananoff has taken photographs, but it wasn’t until later in life that he began to share his artwork with the public. Johananoff’s artwork is represented by Agora Gallery and has been shown internationally. The artist hopes to continue to show his work in additional locations, including the countries in which he has taken photographs such as Guatemala, India, and Costa Rica. Currently based in New York, Johananoff is interested in photographing what he observes without prior expectations of a day of shooting. Instead, he responds to his environment and photographs intuitively, capturing moments that he does not stage or obstruct.
“I grew up in a family with a passion for music and photography. This environment shaped my love for harmony in sounds and color. I find the beauty and attractive details in any environment. I was fortunate to live and travel between extremes, from wars in the Middle East and experiencing the collapse of the Soviet Union, to the beauty of nature in remote places around the world. My experience has transformed me into viewing the world in the most abstract way…”
Johananoff describes his artistic process as motivated by an emotional response. The photographs feature organic scenes, observations from daily life, and travels. Though his photography depicts natural scenes, his artwork cannot be solely categorized as documentary or travel photography. In addition, his work includes elements of abstraction. The compositions of his photographs gain abstracted qualities through his capturing of movement or framing of subject matter closely within the frame. He describes his processes of abstraction as ‘painting with his camera’. Streaks of color and blurring are present in a large body of his photography which results in dream-like images, leaving room for the imagination of the audience. The motion implicated by the blurs prompts the viewer to think of the vitality within the frame. The audience becomes a part of the depicted scene, blurring the boundary between the viewer and the subject of the artwork. While Johananoff may have an abstract eye for photography, the figures and forms depicted are decipherable. The motion does not muddle the content, or abstract to the point of disorientation, but instead adds a layer of emotion to the observed frame. For example, Green Grocer Inner Circle depicts a man positioned at the center of the frame. He is surrounded by an identifiable blurred figure and several containers of food. The artwork is abstracted as the colors and shapes are streaked and form repetitive circles echoing from the crisply depicted central grocer in his denim apron.
The immersive quality of the artist’s photography is motivated by his love for music and travel. Music and sound have always played a large part in Johananoff’s appreciation for the arts and his approach to photographing. He captures colors, patterns, and rhythms within his photography depicting harmony and melody within a scene. The frames are filled with echoed patterns adding visual melody and rhythm to a photograph’s composition. The movement within his photographs depicts further visualizations of sound, such as blurred running horses invoking the sounds of galloping or wind. In his spare time the artist plays, reads, and even writes music. Johananoff explains, “My deepest love is for the interaction between the image and music or sound (still and video).” He hopes for situations in the future in which his artwork can be shown alongside street noises or with musical accompaniments adding another dimension to the photographed scenes.
Johananoff’s body of work is diverse including wildlife photography, macro photography, and abstract portraiture. After decades of working within the shipping industry, the artist explains, “During most of my life, my occupation drove me to develop and use my mind in a way that left little space for exercising my emotions. In the last few years, my photography helps me to better connect to my feelings…” He finds beauty that he emotionally connects to and records both urban and rural scenes around the world. The subjects of his photographs are often human and animal figures or natural formations. At times the figures photographed are blended into their surrounding environments. Johananoff celebrates the varied relationships between wildlife, people, and homes. He is especially fascinated by the desert terrain in the Middle East, which he has photographed for years. Recently, the artist has pursued taking macro photography of wildlife scenes. This series of work features nature and living organisms, focusing on patterns and small details on plant and insect surfaces. He captures abstract qualities that he observes such as organic designs and camouflage in his macro photography which is hyper-focused.
The moments and scenes that are captured in his photography invite the audience to be transported around the world, a sensation which is welcomed after months of quarantine.
This summer as Agora Gallery reopens to the public the work of Danny Johananoff will be featured in an upcoming group exhibition entitled Rediscovery & Sensorial Reality. The show will be on view from July 24th to August 27th and includes several artists working in mediums of painting and photography. Rediscovery & Sensorial Reality features artwork that centers around the concept of modes of storytelling. Each photograph, taken by Johananoff, tells an open-ended story inviting viewers to imagine the lives and places which are still in motion. More artworks by Johananoff are available on the artist’s ARTmine page.
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Chava Krivchenia is an art historian, writer, and curator. She values promoting and collaborating with contemporary artists and has experience working in galleries, museums, and, studios. Chava holds a MA in Art History and specializes in environmental, installation, and assemblage art.