In a devastatingly beautiful new series of paintings, Johnson continues to negotiate a balance between familiar contemporary content and a combination of art historical styles, here via a group of canvases that share the landscape format and a somber tone. Essentially depopulated scenes (such as decorated pines and carved mountain sides) insinuate a human presence in the natural world, a deliberate summoning of the Romantic Movement wherein human longing is irrevocably analogous to the vast potentialities of Nature.
As suggested by the title Chorus, these paintings emphasize harmony achieved through the use of repetition, culling from a diverse array of sources ranging from Islamic tile work and Theosophical Society telepaths to Minimalism and fractal geometry. While the works in the exhibition are imbedded in order, their painterly, agitated surfaces impose a tension that reflects how even as the color is cool the underlying themes are much darker. The basis of the series, as in Johnson’s last exhibition, is a response to our troubling times. Formations of pine trees adorned with twinkling lights become silent personifications of soldiers. The weighed down branches are an aggregation of weather and the burden of time. The chiseled appearances of the presidents on Mt. Rushmore are disembodied and silly as well as grim reminders of loss. Hints of snow capped mountain ranges, ice, and foamy pools are evocations of real or imagined tragedies like Hurricane Katrina or Moby Dick.