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Jess Johnson Prints and Drawings

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Jess Johnson, Alien Sex Magick, acrylic paint, ink, archival pigment print on paper, 101 x 73.5 cm (paper size), 109 x 80cm (framed) Jess Johnson, Citadel #4, gouache, pen, fibre tipped markers on archival pigment print, 28.2 x 38.2 cm (paper size), 33.8 cm x 43.8 cm (framed) Jess Johnson, Pax Edina #6, gouache, pen, fibre tipped markers on archival pigment print, 28.2 x 38.2 cm (paper size), 33.8 cm x 43.8 cm (framed) Jess Johnson, Dream Weapon, pen, fibre tipped markers and gouache on paper, 76 x 56 cm (paper size), 84 cm x 64 (framed) Jess Johnson, Eclectrc #6, gouache, pen, fibre tipped markers pen on archival pigment print 28.2 x 38.2 cm (paper size), 33.8 cm x 43.8 cm (framed) Jess Johnson, Grimoire #3, gouache, pen, fibre tipped markers on archival pigment print, 28.2 x 38.2 cm (paper size), 33.8 cm x 43.8 cm (framed) Jess Johnson, Sensorium Chamber, pen, fibre tipped markers and gouache on paper, 76 x 56 cm (paper size), 84 cm x 64 (framed) Jess Johnson, What you see / All there is, pen, fibre tipped markers, metallic paint and gouache on paper, 101 x 73.5 cm (paper size), 109 x 80cm (framed) Jess Johnson, World, Shut your Mouth, 2015, pen, fibre tipped markers, metallic paint and gouache on paper, 151 x 105 cm (paper size), 170 x 122 cm (framed) Jess Johnson, Sapir-Whorf #5, gouache, pen, fibre tipped markers on archival pigment print, 28.2 x 38.2 cm (paper size), 33.8 cm x 43.8 cm (framed)

Each of Johnson's framed pastel images - here in several sizes - has a unique flavour due to the colour combinations made on the day the artist reached for her marker pens, ink, acrylic or metallic paints, and gouache. As Art Deco Sci-Fi fantasies they feature backdrops of receding architectural towers, complex lattices, and - close to the picture plane - compact boy bodies with snarling animal faces (if they have heads at all).

Auckland

 

Jess Johnson
Sensorium Chamber

 

18 November - 19 December 2015

These ten works from Jess Johnson (hand-coloured prints and drawings) continue themes she has been presenting for several shows now at Ivan Anthony, exuberant and complex images that look like circus or carnival posters, but with creepier elements incorporated that come from her keen interest in comics and graphic novels.

Each of Johnson‘s framed pastel works - here in several sizes - has a unique flavour due to the colour combinations made on the day the artist reached for her marker pens, ink, acrylic or metallic paints, and gouache. As Art Deco Sci-Fi fantasies they feature backdrops of receding architectural towers, complex lattices, and - close to the picture plane - compact boy bodies with snarling animal faces (if they have heads at all).

The leering faces have a hint of US illustrator and writer, Charles Burns, but they are often deformed or split to take on a weird wounded or vulvic quality as an element of horror. Referencing various styles of animation, dog, pig, cat, lion and ram visages (along with Chinese masks) are cleaved to also expose comic collages, while the contorting unclad figures (doing handstands in profile, and various letter-shaped configurations) squeeze into gaps between buildings.

Johnson obviously likes the obsessive activity of hand-colouring in the small multiples, and of drawing, and within their making, enjoys orchestrating intricately patterned urban architecture and lettered messages as backdrops for expressive body postures and wildly bestial facial grimacing.

Overall it is Johnson’s extraordinary eclecticism that fascinates, mixing in with her love of intricate ornamentation and compositional symmetry, unexpected elements such as Gothic architecture, Occult symbolism, Space Invader games, and Babylonian wall reliefs, but via a pixellated colour sense that shimmers, flickers and moves in advancing waves - as if electronic. They are printed posters that allude far beyond the limitations of that paper medium. As if embedded with LEDs, and plugged in themselves.

By the way, if you are going to be in Mebourne over Christmas, Johnson also has a spectacular moving image show at the NGV. A virtual reality animation piece that you’d be nuts to miss.

John Hurrell

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