Paul Johnson Exhibited at The Saatchi Gallery

Paul Johnson


Hand coloured paper collaged on board

72 x 55 cm

Paul Johnson describes his work as “fiction”. In this series of work, each of his figures is a compilation of three different elements: a head, body, and uniform, each separately sourced from found photographs. “They have a Masonic ritual quality,” says Johnson. “The three elements are drawn, photographed, then photocopied before they are collaged. The intention is to construct a real person. In Sister, the girl has a floating or constructed aura above her head, these abstract forms are the thought patterns or feelings this person is having. They also can be read as hair adornments that echo some form of ritual she might be going through. Most of my portraits have a passiveness to them. The figures are kind of turned away, slightly switched off as if other things are happening to them and they are not in control of themselves.”

Paul Johnson
Brother Benedict


Hand coloured paper on board

72 x 55 cm

Johnson develops his works as intricately assembled paper ‘mosaics’. The images he works from are cut into jigsaw-like pieces, “each element is hand-cut, hand coloured and then interlocked back into itself.” Johnson explains. “The whole surface is completely flat, and they operate as if they are paintings. My work is very lovingly handcrafted and labour-intensive, and I think about them as almost something that a monk from the Middle Ages would make, they have a devotional or possible religious quality to them. That’s where the title Brother Benedict comes from. They’re half about the everyday, and half about other more thoughtful things, and suggest ideas about spiritualism or the contemporary sublime. Youth culture is an undercurrent in my work, it’s like they’re involved in some sort of group – everyone’s got a logo, like some kind of teenage gang; the one in Brother Benedict comes from a lodge banner.”

Paul Johnson


Hand coloured paper collaged on board

70 x 70cm

“I think of my portraits as a constructed family: one leads to the other, and though related they become increasingly disparate. They’re like dream scenarios, and nod to a tradition of romanticism and the Pre-Raphaelites. The girl in Guide is from a photograph of a murderess, though in the painting she looks quite innocent. I called it Guide in reference to the disc motifs – the badge on her chest and the auras around her head – it’s like she’s being guided by some other force, where reality and imagination become confused. The shape of the aura comes from a lid my friend in Texas found on the road. It has a formal but broken quality. I like the virtual aspect of how it came from the ground, to the Internet, to another country, to become something completely new in the painting.”

Other artists in

Caroline Achaintre    Tasha Amini    Hurvin Anderson    Maurizio Anzeri    Jonathan Baldock    Anna Barriball    Steve Bishop    Karla Black    Lyn. Yiadom Boakye    Pablo Bronstein    Alan Brooks    Peter Linde Busk    Carla Busuttil    Nicholas Byrne    Gareth Cadwallader    Juliana Cerqueira Leite    Spartacus Chetwynd    Steven Claydon    Clarisse d'Arcimoles    William Daniels    Matthew Darbyshire    Graham Durward    Tim Ellis    Tom Ellis    Richard Evans    Tessa Farmer    Marcus Foster    Robert Fry    Ximena Garrido-Lecca    Jaime Gili    Nick Goss    Luke Gottelier    Kate Groobey    Anthea Hamilton    Anne Hardy    Gabriel Hartley    Nicholas Hatfull    Iain Hetherington    Alexander Hoda    Sigrid Holmwood    James Howard    Graham Hudson    Dean Hughes    Des Hughes    Mustafa Hulusi    Paul Johnson    Edward Kay    Idris Khan    Scott King    Ansel Krut    littlewhitehead    Christina Mackie    Alastair Mackinven    Goshka Macuga    Ryan Mosley    Rupert Norfolk    Arif Ozakca    Mark Pearson    Dan Perfect    Peter Peri    Olivia Plender    Henrijs Preiss    Ged Quinn    Clunie Reid    Barry Reigate    Luke Rudolf    Maaike Schoorel    Daniel Silver    David Brian Smith    Renee So    Fergal Stapleton    Clare Stephenson    Systems House    Caragh Thuring    Phoebe Unwin    Donald Urquhart    Jonathan Wateridge    John Wynne    Toby Ziegler

Paul Johnson's Biography

Paul Johnson
1972 Born in London
Lives and works in London


MA Fine Art, Royal Academy Schools, London

BA (hons) Fine Art, Painting, Glasgow School of Arts


Self-Healing Soldiers, solo presentation, Armory, New York

Ascension into Unselfishness, Ancient & Modern, London
When Were Gone Destroy Everything, One in the Other, London

Sensitive Chaos, Mizuma Gallery, Tokyo

The Glass Family, One in the Other, London

Paul Johnson Studio darte Cannaviello, Milan
Second Seed One in the Other, London


Newspeak – British Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, London
BigMinis - (fetishes of crisis), CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art, Bordeaux

Collider, Margini Arte Contemporanea, Massa, Italy

Living London, Zabludowicz Collection, 176, London
Brotherhoods of Subterreria, KunstBunker, Numberg, Germany

The Souvenir Mine, Mizuma Gallery, Tokyo
Black Moon Island One in the Other, London

The Future Lasts a Long Time, Le Consortium, Dijon
Future Primitive (curated by Paul Johnson) One in the Other, London
Faux Realism part 2 Rockwell, London

The Future Lasts a Long Time Tal Esther, Tel Aviv
World.B Flaca Gallery, London

Arrivals Pump house gallery, London

4th St.Petersberg International Biennale of Contemporary Art,
Manege Central Exhibition Hall, St.Petersberg, Russia

The Cross Point Gana Art Space, Seoul, Korea
I Love This Life Transmission Gallery, Glasgow