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Romano Johnson lived on the North side of Chicago until moving to Madison, Wisconsin at aged 12, which is when he started making art. “Mano,” as friends call him, works out of the non-profit studio in Madison called Artworking, Inc. His large, acrylic and glitter paintings are packed with pattern, color and musical rhythms creating an exuberance that matches his larger-than-life subject matter.

Johnson’s complex compositions feature pop culture icons, political figures, racing cars and spaceships. With their flat forms, vibrating patterns, and explosions of color, Johnson’s paintings can be linked to the venerable American tradition of self-taught art and seem to fall into the regional lineage of a Madison predecessor, Simon Sparrow. In his mo­st recent works, the artist­ looks to prayer and religion, depicting a series of African American deities and angelic figures. With bright acrylic paint and highlights of glitter, Johnson’s winged entities absorb and distribute the positive forces of the universe and, in the arti­st’s words, offer viewers an opportunity to “recognize the love, peace, and power put on this Earth.”

Romano Johnson has showed his work at Portrait Society for four years. His solo exhibition, Silver Art Bible,  was in 2014. Romano was also featured in a solo exhibition at the Madison Public Library November 6 to December 31, 2015. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan included his work in “Wild and Tame,” January – October, 2016. Romano was included in the prestigious Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 2016, and was the first self-taught artist to earn this distinction. A solo show of his work was at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, August 26th to November 5th, 2017.

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