Abstract works in the eye of the beholder
Johnson's plane-space hopes to show beauty in new ways
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 06:00 am
Works by Duncan Johnson
Opening reception Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.
Artist will be in attendance.
Show runs concurrently with Angela Lane's Hybrid Forms, both on until April 27.
Art Gallery of St. Albert
19 Perron Street
Call 780-460-4310 or visit www.artgalleryofstalbert.com for more information.
Painter Duncan Johnson hopes to open some eyes and some minds at the same time.
His new show of abstract works might tread some of the same ground as Angela Lane’s Hybrid Forms (running concurrently in the Art Gallery of St. Albert’s main floor exhibit space) but there’s a big difference in how they each carry themselves.
“I'd like to think I let intuition guide me as much as possible,” he stated.
Plane-space is an extension of his larger exploration of some unique artistic concepts, ideas that might not be immediately apparent upon first observation. He explained that it’s basically about the experience of a painting, using some of the theories and teachings from abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann.
“He maintained a resolute belief in a content born out of the tension between real and illusionistic space, abetted by colour and pictorial mechanics. For Hofmann, that tension was a defining trait in pictorial expression, to be engaged intuitively and judged as real as anything else,” Johnson said.
Johnson has made it his mission to create his own path, one he hopes to share with viewers.
“The last six or seven years have been spent developing vocabulary and process that will allow me to satisfactorily engage the practice of making self-contained paintings, with a straightforward emphasis on pictorial issues, without foregrounding the tension between image and object as content, and without reference to a particular site,” he said.
Mostly, he says, he’s just trying to make good paintings.
That’s a lot to say about paintings that could come across to the lay observer as squiggles of colour lines and paint applications for texture effect. Don’t be fooled, he continues. All of these abstract tools are used for a purpose.
The challenge then is up to the viewer to learn new ways of appreciating art, to find new beauty where the eye is faced with neither traditional images of scenic landscape, interesting still life or pleasing human form.
Johnson, it would seem, is working to break down pictures into their simplest elements, and still achieve the same or greater response.
“I pride myself on an open and experimental approach with lots of room for risk-taking,” he said. “The most difficult aspect of my painting practice is letting my intuition guide the process, and learning to accept unexpected results. I'm a bit old school here, but I'm really just seeking a unified result with good colour and character.”
When asked what he hopes that audiences get out of his show, he says it’s strictly for enjoyment and nothing more.
“Pleasure, I guess. A bit of a positive lift maybe, vis-ŕ-vis a certain type of pictorial energy and focus. I'm not afraid of beauty, and I don't much care for irony as a reason to make a painting.”
“Like what you like,” he continued, “that's the most important thing. Sometimes abstraction can be tough, but if somebody truly has an appetite for art, sustained exposure and experience will eventually help them find something to appreciate.”