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 TEXTS



             

  • Eidos exhibition press release at VINEspace, London, UK (Oct 12th - Nov 26th, 2006)

    The gallery is pleased to present a new series of work by Ian Johnson titled 'Reflector' Paintings.

    The work, chameleon-like in character, adapts and changes to both the environment and how we move as we view it. It soaks up and sucks in.

    In dim or gloomy conditions, an inky, placid atmosphere is cast and the work quietly gains independence because we are so less aware of our own reflection. However, under the bright lights of the gallery, the viewer re-establishes control and the work does our bidding as we move around to change the reflections and affect our own experience. In places, at times, areas are flat and impenetrable, but the same areas viewed from a different perspective can be full of depth and scattered reflection.

    This work has been conceived using technology; machine stamped vinyl stickers and industrially polished aluminium. Nevertheless, there are intimations to painting that should not be overlooked. An expedient modern equivalent of the colourfield experience overlaps with the loquacious diffusion of late nineteenth century figurative painting.

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  • Dawn Chorus catalogue text by Pryle Behrman, for the FT'06 Show at the Florence Trust, London, UK
    (July, 2006)


    Ian Johnson's art explores the duality of attraction and antagonism that seems inherent in mankind's relationship with nature. He has, for example, created the wooden nesting boxes from which the taped calls of various birds of prey emanate and which, significantly, are surrounded by a tangle of barbed wire. On one hand, these predators represent freedom and a certain noble virility (hence the long history of eagles being appropriated into the iconography of empires from ancient Rome to contemporary America). However, humanity's romanticized, anodyne vision of the natural world is a far cry from the reality: nature is violent, something that humans would much rather keep at arm's length. This emphasis on containment is reflected in another of Johnson's works created from rolled bundles of artificial grass, which are bound into geometric, tubular forms. They echo the current obsession with fixing and maintaining boundaries, stirred up by the media frenzy that continually claims our frontiers are being transgressed by immigrants at a dangerous rate. The use of plastic as turfing also returns to the paradoxical nature of mankind's interaction with the natural world: we want it to be as 'authentic' as possible, yet we also yearn to make nature that little bit better and, more importantly, a little bit more domestic.

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  • TimeScale text by Della Gooden, on the occasion of the solo installation exhibited at the Gooden Gallery, London, UK (March 19th - May 9th, 2010)

    'TimeScale' continues Ian Johnson's enquiry into the conceptual and physical implications of man's impact on the urban and natural landscape and ways that this can be configured intuitively. It consists of inter-related sculptures, drawings and assemblages that interlace attributes of the elemental with various concepts of organisation and categorisation common to man's need to understand his own history and development.

    Cultural anthropologists studying cultural diversity, collect data on the impact of global economic and political processes on local cultural realities. The empirical purity of knowledge gained when the standard model for measurement can only really come from within the single cultural reality of the observer, reveals the complexity and questionable objectivity of any conclusions drawn. Johnson works not from the assumption that sense can ever be made from his own enquiry but rather that sense can be 'felt'.

    Methods of presenting artefacts in museums; the classification and ordering of exhibits in an attempt to explain a culture or plot a history, is referenced in the drawing 'Timescale (light box #1)' which provokes contemplation and quiet objectivity. The tabletop sculpture with carefully positioned, painted black seeds entitled 'Badlands' (In the gallery window) assumes a long-lost logic. It is an aberration of modern taxonomy; a perverse panorama for some ulterior game-plan. Placed around the walls, the three small sculptures - 'Untitled #1 (Ash)' / 'Untitled #2 (Steel)' and 'Untitled #3 (Oil)' could be interpreted as offerings, altar-like objects which have an imperative of origin and meaning beyond immediate grasp, but which provide acute points of concentration formally and conceptually around the room.

    In contrast to these objects, which celebrate unavailability, detachment and mystery, the large branch-like forms that dominate the gallery provide a tangible subjective experience. The semi-chaotic over-lay of forms, stacked, strewn and positioned on the floor and partially climbing the walls, creates a sense of location, an apocalyptic landscape. Titled 'Crosswire (Antenna)' they are a caricature of nature, over-simplistic and clearly man-made; a visual confessional.


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    Mapping the Territory
    text by George Mogg, Curator - Beldam Gallery, Brunel University, London.
    Written for the solo exhibition at the Skot Foreman Gallery, SMA, Mexico (1st Dec - 1st Jan 2014)

     

    Ian Johnson's new body of work is an installation of his Level Paintings, which use both colour and monochrome acrylic enamel paint on plywood panels. The visual language of Johnson's work brings to mind imagery associated with records, charts and graphs. Timelines are suggested by the number of metal bars inserted into each panel for example 52 (weeks), 28-31 (days), 24 (hours). His work refers to measuring tools and devices but where a wall chart might usually exist to measure change, growth or the passing of time, Johnson's timelines appear to be an abstract record of an unknown strata. The elongated vertical panels of striped colours perhaps depict a cross-section of an imaginary terrain. Within a single painting, smaller groups of coloured sections convey an impression of concise abstract landscapes stacked one on top of one another.

    Using the language of minimalism and its associated economy of form and material, Level Paintings have been created from 'off-cut' plywood panels, used primarily as supports for cutting timber lengths into sections. The panels Johnson has used have acquired a 'ready-made' surface, scored by multiple saw cuts through the supported timber. The panels are then cut to varying lengths and industrial spray paint applied, creating a slick and sumptuous colour field within each component.
    The title for Johnson's installation is a reference to a quote by Alfred Korzybski; "The map is not the territory."1 
    By using the title Mapping the Territory for this installation, Johnson suggests to the viewer that we are looking at a survey of sorts - these collective works provide an impression of a terrain, by contributing to a visual chart of a landscape. Both Korzybski's quote and Johnson's installation remind the viewer that they are in the presence of a collection of carefully selected and edited symbols, which combine to create a metaphor for a landscape that is an abstraction of an otherwise un-reachable place.


    1The expression "the map is not the territory" appeared in print in a paper that Alfred Korzybski gave at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1931.


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    Cross Sections text by Margaret Failoni, Curator.
    Written for the solo presentation at Interseccion Arte Contemporaneo, Valle de Bravo, MX
    (21st Oct - 31 Dec. 2016)



    A perfect example of 21st Century art, British born artist Ian Johnson creates a selection of work which is pure pictorial lyricism adopting the principles of simplicity: smooth geometric shapes both simple and complex where light and color are juxtaposed. For this exhibition in the Valle de Bravo branch of the Interseccion Gallery, the artist presents seven recent works of structural beauty. In Amnesia Cycle (Pt.1), 2016, he presents us with twelve bas-relief 'strips' representing a calendar of sorts. Each 'strip' is a month and each consists of a series of perfect lines, criss-crossed by spoke like motifs of brilliantly colored panels, each with the number of spokes representing the days in each month.

    In
    Untitled (Cause/Effect), 2016, we see an installation of various sect-angle shaped grey, cement-like plinths of various sizes with black metal cactus-like objects resting on top. The artist tells us that these forms can be presented in various different configurations depending on space and the installer's whim.

    Four Corners, 2016
    presents us with another installation of various bitumen-effect pieces in what appears to be burnt wood in sort of a semi-abstract cross section of a chard forest.

    Almost as a continuation of his London output, Johnson presents us with
    Pulse Paintings (In/out), 2016, two juxtaposed aluminium panels with what appear to be atoms dancing across the picture plane.

    In
    Level Painting #245, 2013-2016, the artist presents us with a majestically brilliant work in its simplicity, a series of monochromatic grey spoke like forms within a bas-relief/painting. And with Untitled 4.3., 2016, we see a little jewel of a work, sort of like a tease, displaying his brilliant use of form and color.

    Ian Johnson lives and works in Mexico with frequent trips back to London. His work can be seen in European museums and private collections as well as important commissions in Mexico City.




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    The Frequency Variations text by Margaret Failoni, Curator.
    Written for the solo exhibition at Interseccion Arte Contemporaneo, SMA, MX
    (29th April - 31 July. 2017)



    For this exhibition, celebrating the additional new spaces of the Interseccion Gallery in the Aurora Art & Design Centre, British born artist Ian Johnson creates a very special selection of work which is pure pictorial lyricism; geometric shapes both simple and complex where light and colour are juxtaposed. The artist presents us with a carefully selected group of works; true pictorial poetry. As we enter Johnson's allotted exhibition space we see a celebratory atmosphere of winter like glittering panels on the far wall; an exciting mirror image of dancing atoms, with brilliantly used black, grey and white oval shapes juxtaposed with silvery white streams cascading down from the mirrored steel surface. On the floor in the centre of the room is an installation, a multi-formed sculpture of octagonal cement grey shapes with black agave-like forms sprouting from the surface. On a side wall a series of brilliantly executed columns in black, grey, white spoke shapes applied as relief strips, each taking a different geometric form, each a different colour or shade of the blacks and gray.

    Entering an adjacent room is like a burst of Spring. The first thing one sees are the bare branches placed across a plinth. Raising ones gaze to the walls - unlike the first room - we are greeted with a burst of colour. We seem to have changed seasons. On one wall is a twelve panel multi-coloured calendar. Each panel represents a  month consisting of perfect lines criss-crossed by spoke-like motifs of brilliantly coloured panel strips, each with the number of spokes representing the days of each month. On the facing wall a six panel work of mixed media on steel brings us into Spring with a burst of dancing atoms in different shades of green, running riot across a silvery surface; one can almost smell the grass. A few smaller works placed discretely around the exhibition space rounds out a perfectly executed exhibition by this artist. With home and studio in San Miguel de Allende, Ian Johnson keeps his pulse on the international scene, with frequent trips to Europe. His art can be found in museums and private collections in England with ever growing recent acquisitions and commissions from architects and collectors in New York, Monterrey and Mexico City.



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