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While I have always avoided describing my work as abstract, I've come to see the nature of my paintings as driven by the spirit of a figure-ground relationship. Of growing interest to me is a sense of the primal manner in which we relate to the earth’s horizon and how we exist in the context of landscape. Rather than pursuing what is illusory, my approach is experimental. My interest lies in the tension between wanting to avoid abstraction while calling upon elements of landscape that address the primal subject.
There are moments when simultaneous overlays of color or possibly a correction, for example, figures a form and a theme. When these departures occur, different patterns that otherwise had been out of focus, or out of reach, or at least out of my attention satisfy me and I’ll notice its importance to the experience of the painting. It is these moments that for me draw the eye more deeply into the poetry of the real than is possible in either illusion or abstraction.
On a formal level, growing out of my acquaintance with the language of the non-objective, I like to flirt with the dissonance of color in layers or juxtaposition while calling attention to the surface with the supple, sensual qualities of the medium of oil paint. Taking full advantage of the possibilities of the medium, the occurrence of unexpected passages in translucence and even in the character of pulls and drips of paint provide an encounter with the tangible. While I've been exploring color and shape through the poetry of the non-objective, I've recognized this element as being something that stirs a dialogue in the sensibilities of some of my contemporaries, as in some of the later works of Gerhardt Richter. In this manner, I see a shift in how my work addresses form, and I’m excited to see where this is taking me as this body of work continues to evolve.
Elizabeth Pence writes in Artweek, August 2006:
“Johnson’s material images are cultivated through the movement of gesture
and the use of mineral and organic pigments. Her disciplined method prioritizes
the event over the finished object, however capable her use of color or balanced
accumulation of form. The broad gesture used to create each individual shape is
accomplished by wiping away around the form. The puzzle-piece shapes and
arching strokes give way under the material phenomenon of transparent application
of oil paint, visually extending the “space” behind the surface, dropping back and
reconfiguring the relationship between the forms within the painting. This neutralizes
the integrity of the interlocking shapes and complicates the space of the image
in a sophisticated and interesting way."