Paul Johnson The Glass Family
For Paul Johnson's exhibition at the gallery in 2003 one had to peer through the diaphanous surfaces of his collages to collect the fragments of an unsettling tableau. Placed over the work was a translucent laminate surface that stood between the picture plane and the viewer and which sealed inside the illusionism of the picture.
As a result, the details of the intensely made collages were removed from close scrutiny and what was left were the after-effects of the image. The graphic qualities of the collages functioned in a remote, imaginary way. There was no narrative immediacy, instead a slow disclosure, emptying out into strange, imaginative worlds.
For his new exhibition, The Glass Family, Johnson has removed the laminate surface from his work. What are shown are the intricately, detailed constructions of collages using a technique interlocking fragments of individually hand-coloured paper.
His subjects, four portraits - two boys and two girls - and a stairwell, are recovered from old newspapers and magazines; a particular source of Johnson's imagery is old skateboard and speedway magazines. Found in the work, also, are number of recurring motifs: esoteric badges, logos, marks of symbolism and orb-like discs. These crop up as pictorial, structural devices within the logic of the depiction and also as signifiers of other-worldly attributes and belief systems. He uses them, also, to create an idea of family resemblances and reinforces the notion of the family hewn from the show title. Whilst, they should be read as mental manifestations of the characters personalities, these motifs have an ability to introduce a spatial dimension to what are sometimes flat grounds of background colour.
Johnson's work is framed by an interest in outsider and visionary art. His exhibition follows on from a group of three shows he curated featuring outsider artists: Future Primitive, Prophet Royal Robertson and World B.
A two-sided work in the show mounted on a plinth, whilst allowing him to introduce a new device to explore facets of his own work through close ups and details, is also a reference to the tendency for outsider artists to use both sides of the paper.Read the entire article hereSource: