John Wissemann’s 2005 show “Couples” was a body of work in colored pencil which the artist had been working on for the past two years, evolving out of many years of working with 18th and 19th century Japanese woodblock prints as inspiration. His 2001 Farnsworth Museum exhibition caused a sensation; Philip Isaacson wrote for the Maine Sunday Telegram, “The figures are taken from classic Japanese woodblock prints and transferred to stencils and, through them, to paper. a given figure in various guises may appear in several works. It may, perhaps, be culturally anticipated, but its supporting background will be a tumultuous achievement in innovation. Wissemann draws broadly from both the contemporary abstraction and ethnic design sources and assimilates them into an embrace for the Japanese figures. This alone is a remarkable exercise in sophistication, but when charged with the artist’s facility with color, the effect in the gallery is incendiary.”
The artist has had a long career as painter, printmaker, and teacher of art. He has shown widely in New York City, California, and Maine, where exhibits include Gold/Smith Gallery in Boothbay Harbor, Leighton Gallery in Blue Hill, Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, and Roundtop Center for the Arts in Damariscotta. His solo show at the Caldbeck in 1988 presented his beginnings with the technique of “Pochoir”, which involves the use of stencils.