Art as concrete ontology (and a little epistemology gets dragged in)
I want to get close to reality: to the nature of being. The self and the world cannot be separated, they are a single experience. We live in a world of things yet logically we can only experience experiences, not things in themselves. My work models this ambiguous relationship. My work uses the ancient metaphors of light and of inside and outside to deal with this.
I want a contemplative art with a simple presence but the density one associates with poetry.
In early work (My father blind and dying) and sometimes recently (Trying to imagine not Being) I focused on the Not-Visible (things known about but not immediately visible, which animate what is visible).
From the mid 80s I used inversions of inside and outside, using found objects that can stand-in for the human body (boats, baths, beds) combined with an immaterial element ( usually a slide or sometimes a film projection) and /or liquids (The Bath, Cloud, Secret Sea 1 & 2, Ocean, Sea of Unknowing).
More recently, particularly since 2000, I have used projections to create a deconstructed illusion, an imagined light source in the darkness. (Imaginary Landscape No 2, Facing the Dark) Interpretation is very different if one simply accepts the illusion, or considers the projector, the act of projection, as part of the piece.
Since 2003 I have reversed this, starting with a light source and using paint to erase its effects, a sort of anti-painting (Trying to imagine not Being).
Broadly my early work came out of classic 60s and 70s Conceptual Art and particularly Arte Povera; however my approach to meaning has much in common with poetry. Many works which now seem like sources I only discovered later.
In terms of content, most of my mature work could be related to Magritte's window paintings, particularly those showing a broken window, the view through which still adheres to the broken shards. My work also parallels, in material form, many of the philosophical ideas in the poetry of Wallace Stevens, (a new book on him uses a photo of "Facing the Dark" which is also being used to advertise the Routledge philosophy books.)
BSc Bartlett School of Architecture, University College, London
Dip. Byam Shaw Art School 1976-80
Exhibited in New Contemporaries three years running.
MA Goldsmiths College 1981-83
Found mature style mid 80s, pioneering the use of many objects and techniques, but just as he began applying seriously to galleries became severely ill, and almost inactive for 7 to 8 years.
Restarted applying to galleries 1998 and had several offers of shows from major galleries, some yet to happen. Several mixed shows in England and France.
2001 major retrospective at the London Roundhouse
He has lectured and given seminars at art schools.
Currently seeking opportunities to exhibit and teach in UK and abroad.
- 2007 David Johnson, "Returning Light" Installations and Objects 1978 - 2007, Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax (more info)
- 2005 Nave, Dilston Grove (Cafe Gallery Projects), Clare College Mission Church, Southwark, London (more info)
- 2001 Imaginary light, David Johnson sculptures and installations, The Roundhouse, London (more info)
- 2007 Analogue & Digital, Fieldgate Gallery, London (more info)
- 2007 Mapping, Bury Art Gallery, Bury, Lancashire
- 2006 Unsere Nachbarn England, Huus Metternich, Munz Platz, Koblenz, Germany
- 2000 Zero - G, Café Gallery Projects, London
- 1999 O Pars Là Surprising Spaces, Lieu d'Art Contemporain, Narbonne, France
- 1999 As Dark as Light - two man show, Newlyn Gallery, Newlyn
- 1998 Open, Whitechapel Gallery, London
- 1986 ARGO Group Show, Haworth Gallery, Accrington
- 1984 Low Tech, Coracle Press, London
- 1982 Woodlands Gallery, London
- 1981 New Contemporaries, Institute of Contemporary Art, London
- 1980 New Contemporaries, Institute of Contemporary Art, London
- 1979 New Contemporaries, Institute of Contemporary Art, London
- 2007 Reality and Depth (Vertigo Magazine / Vol 3, No 6) (more info)
- 2007 Returning Light (objects and installations 1978-2007 (more info)
- 2005 Nave / David Johnson (more info)
- 2001 Imaginary Light, by David Johnson (more info)
Web links - article/press