CJ Hungerman’s psychedelic art takes you on a “magic trip” that would make Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters proud, though his paintings achieve a state of altered consciousness sans hallucinogenic drugs. Amplifying color, texture, and shape, CJ presents a pulsating illusion of a three-dimensional world, one that’s a little kinder and brighter than reality.
The Illinois-based artist, known for his murals around Chicago and across the country, explores the dynamics of peaceful cohabitation in his work . “The medley of colors and intermingling shapes [in my work] represents the diversity of people residing in our communities,” he tells NOT REAL ART. “Even though the colors and odd shapes should not collectively work together, I have found a way to place them side by side, successfully rendering them as one harmonious piece. I do this to demonstrate the way all of us can interact with each other as we traverse through the friction of life.”
Created in collaboration with portrait artist Cesar Conde, a trio of works (“Old Man,” “Austin,” and “Kane”) demonstrates CJ’s desire to merge disparate styles into a harmonious whole. Last year the three works appeared in C+C=Collision, a joint exhibition at Chicago’s Epiphany Center for the Arts. A fusion of vibrant abstraction and poignant realism, their work relies on friendship and blind trust in the other artist’s ability. Cesar shares the duo’s process with Epiphany, saying, “I never know what’s coming next. It’s like unwrapping a present and it never disappoints. I tell CJ who the person I’m painting is, what they are like, their character, their passion. CJ interprets them with his own visual language. I feel that both disciplines just feed off of each other. I totally love it!”
Whether it’s partnered exhibitions or murals, CJ’s artistic process relies on community. (One of his more recent murals at Hotel Ziggy in West Hollywood is a mash-up with Chicago-based artist Dominic Sansone). Though he has a successful solo career, CJ practices what he preaches by pairing up with artists outside his immediate aesthetic circle. With a goal to push the boundaries of connection and communication as far as they’ll go, CJ says, “My art is about unity in the community, bringing the variety of humanity together.”
“My art is about unity in the community, bringing the variety of humanity together.” — CJ Hungerman
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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