Approved: 26.02.2008

Alexander Johnson

Artist, Gallery educator

Approved: 26.02.2008

I graduated in 1985 and have been painting and exhibiting all my adult life. I have spent time living in Spain and Holland as well as London and East Sussex where I am now based. My work exists on the edge of representation and abstraction. Having made representational and figurative work for the first part of my career, I began to paint in a more abstract way as a conscious decision in 2010 to help push my work forward and break old habits. In 2012, I made a series of purely abstract geometrical silkscreen prints titled 'Reconnaissance' based on my father's wartime aerial photographs, which he took from a Spitfire over the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa in 1942-43. Some of these map-like images were exhibited at Atom Gallery in London, Towner Gallery Eastbourne and 35 North Contemporary Gallery in Brighton and are contained in a hardback book available from my website.

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      Artist Statement

      I graduated in 1985 and have been painting and exhibiting all my adult life. I have spent time living in Spain and Holland as well as London and East Sussex where I am now based. My work exists on the edge of representation and abstraction. Having made representational and figurative work for the first part of my career, I began to paint in a more abstract way as a conscious decision in 2010 to help push my work forward and break old habits. In 2012, I made a series of purely abstract geometrical silkscreen prints titled 'Reconnaissance' based on my father's wartime aerial photographs, which he took from a Spitfire over the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa in 1942-43. Some of these map-like images were exhibited at Atom Gallery in London, Towner Gallery Eastbourne and 35 North Contemporary Gallery in Brighton and are contained in a hardback book available from my website.

      In 2016-18, I was artist in residence at Deanland Airfield close to my studio in East Sussex. I made work drawing on its history as an Advance Landing Ground originally built in 1944 to support the D-Day landings, this of course related back to my father's career as an RAF pilot. The work comprised charcoal drawings, silkscreen prints, etchings and oils on canvas is documented in a book 'Deanland' by photographer John Brockliss. There is also a short film shot by Antony Penrose, son of wartime photographer Lee Miller who also provided a foreword to the book.

       

      Most recently I have made a trip to Guernica, famously portrayed by Picasso in 1937 after the bombing by Nazi forces during the Spanish Civil war. As with Deanland, rather than dwell on the past history, I have chosen to portray elements of the town as it exists today and to concentrate on the energy, light and life that I experienced on my visit there - to symbolise the triumph of the Basque culture (and ultimately all cultures) over repression, fascism and war.

      My working process begins with drawing; these days usually in charcoal but also on digital drawing apps on my phone when that's more convenient. I take photos as well but don't tend to work from them or the drawings directly. I learn about the subject matter first by looking and sketching but once the paintings begin they take on a life of their own, often incorporating chance brushstrokes and abstract elements. I am not trying to make faithful or realistic representations of places or things, rather to show how they appear to me in my own imagination, including image fragments that get stuck in my head and from the everyday working process in the studio. I paint pretty much every day and ideas surface and disappear constantly. I work exclusively in oils, usually on several pieces at a time. I can never be sure which images will survive and like most painters I destroy a lot of work along the way to get where I want to be.

      CV & Education

      2019 April/May: Farley Farmhouse Gallery & Lee Miller Archives, The Deanland Project (John Brockliss photographer) curated by Antony Penrose.

      2018 November, The Masters Printmaking Exhibition, Bankside Gallery, London. (7-18 Nov)

      2018 November, Woolwich Print Fair, London.

      2018 Glynde Place Chalkpit group exhibition.

      2018 June/July: 35 North Contemporary Fine Art The Deanland Project (solo)

      2017 Rabley Drawing Centre touring exhibition.

      2017 Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne, Five Silkscreens from the Reconnaissance series.

      2017 National Original Print Exhibition, Bankside Gallery London.

      2017 Jerwood Drawing Prize, selected artist, Jerwood Space, London (then touring)

      2017 Reconnaissance at ATOM Gallery, London, solo exhibition of silkscreens on paper.

      2017 August: Artwave Open Studios, Lewes, East Sx. www.artwavefestival.org

      2016: Artists Viewpoint, Alexander Johnson talk about David Bomberg, first floor gallery. Video link: http://www.alexander-johnson.com/new-gallery-1/alexander-johnson-artists-view-on-david-bomberg-towner-gallery-20163072016

      2016: Gallery 35 North, Brighton. Solo exhibition of new work.

      2015: Club Abstract, at the Towner Gallery Eastbourne, Alexander Johnson talks on William Gear relating it back to his own work as an abstract artist.

      2015 SEO: three pieces selected by The Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, July-September.

      2015: LIFE IN ABSTRACT new work (solo exhibition) The Project Gallery, Arundel.

      2013 - Brighton Festival Artist's Open Studios 

      2012 - New Work, The Four Seasons at Canary Wharf, London (with Modern Art Buyer)

      2012 - 'BITE' Artists Making Prints, The Mall Galleries, The Mall, London UK

      2012 - House Open, Brighton Dome Founders Room, Brighton,

      2012 - Parallax AF, 82 Mercer St, New York

      2011 - Pushing Print, The Margate Gallery, Kent.

      2009 - Art Liberating Lives, Mall Galleries, London 2009

      2009 - Fragile Landscapes, The Architects Gallery, London

      2009 - ROCK TRUST , Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

      2007 - Art/CLIC, Bankside Gallery, London.

      Publications

      2017 Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition catalogue. ISBN: 978-1-908331-29-8

      2015 Life in Abstract, Project Gallery catalogue. ISBN: 978-1-78280-620-2

      2015 Inside Artists magazine, Issue 2.

      2015 Art in Brighton. ISBN 978-0-9928543-1-7

      2014 Art in Brighton. ISBN: 978-0-9928543-0-0