Alexander Johnson is a mid-career artist whose abstracted images are rooted in the representational world. His paintings initially captivate us with a strong use of line, colour and geometry and over time begin to suggest shadows, buildings and aerial landscapes. After a lifetime studying and making art, his confidence shines through in the structure and brushwork of the finished paintings which pay homage to the hidden beauty of the world around us. Blocks of colour are couched in soft greys that afford his work a calmness contrasting with a linear structure which keeps the eye interested and always moving.
Johnson studied Fine Art and Printmaking at Cardiff University graduating with an honours degree in 1985. Initially a figurative painter, he moved to abstraction in his 40s. making geometrical images based on his father's wartime photos which were taken from a Spitfire as part of the Aerial Reconnaissance Service in WW2. These first abstractions used the linear patterns of roads and coastlines from overhead photos of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa and now form part of his visual lexicon. His unusual palette incorporates tones from faded colour film-photography in the 1970's, family photo albums, and the pre-digital world.
The titles of the work often refer back to places he has lived in; Spain, Holland and London. He now works in a purpose-built studio in East Sussex, in the shadow of the South Downs near where he grew up. His ongoing interests are rooted in memories from his childhood, conflict archaeology from the Second World War (bunkers and airfields) and the rural history of his family in Sussex. More recently he has been exploring questions of environment, globalisation and national identity using imagery suggesting flags or islands as in the recent 'Archipelago' paintings.
He says of his work, 'I try not to offer the complete picture and to leave enough space for the viewer to enter the work and form their own opinion. Everyone will see different things in an abstract piece, depending on their life experience and visual understanding. There are no right or wrong interpretations; it is personal to each individual. For me the best art doesn't give everything away at a first glance, it has a sense of mystery that draws you in over time giving you space to create your own connections, much as you would do with a piece of music. I like my paintings to encourage thought and reflection.'