Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson Exhibited at The Saatchi Gallery

Ryan Johnson


Carpet, gesso, plywood, water based marker, brass rods, steel, acrylic paint conduit, plastic tubing

233.7 x 119.4 x 163.8 cm
Ryan Johnson
Sentinel (Orange) (detail)


Casting tape, rebar, plywood, cement, plastic, spray paint, glass, aluminium, enamel paint

327.7 x 124.5 x 55.9 cm

Made from plaster bandage, Johnson’s Sentinel (Orange) towers with mummified clumsiness; its hollowed skin a disembodied armour encasing a time-defying tick-tock face. Its hazard orange – the actual colour of the medical tape – doubles as emergency unit uniform; the figure is an unsung hero of past and present, an underappreciated deity of safety and assurance. Rescuing his paladins from an eternally forlorn fate, Johnson’s sculptures in this series were originally exhibited with marker pens tied to their appendages, inviting viewers to decorate their surfaces with messages; the public outpouring of adulation becoming graffiti defacement of monuments no longer valued.

Ryan Johnson
Sentinel (Please Hold)


Casting tape, rebar, plywood, cement, plastic, spray paint, glass, aluminium, enamel paint

348 x 299.7 x 182.9 cm

Through his playful use of materials, Johnson’s work creates a theatrical tension between ‘stuff’ and its implied function: clock faces stand in for people faces, bandages become noblesse armour, and steel rods protrude painfully as arms and legs; his battered crafty aesthetic giving all the appearance of the walking wounded. Sentinel (Please Hold) sculpts a cruel picture of ineffectuality and obsolescence. Comically rendered with the tell-tale ravages of age, Johnson’s veteran teeters on peg-leg and gout foot, his guts blown out, and arm replaced by a fishing rod-like prosthetic. Relegated to desk duty, even answering the phone becomes a mission impossible, his body covered by hundreds of unanswered messages.

Ryan Johnson


Casting tape, glass, plywood, cement, plastic, cardboard, spray paint, enamel paint, aluminium, keys, fabric, rubber

213.4 x 91.4 x 55.9 cm

Using fiction as a departure point into making, this series of Ryan Johnson’s work revolves around the literary archetype of the Watchman: the ever-lurking ghostly observer, lonesome figure of security and  surveillance. Occupying an uneasy space between dreamscape and the material world, Johnson’s figure is a haunting effigy, a character reduced to the tools of his trade. With cog-like guts formed from giant key rings and a distorted clock for a face, he’s more machine than man, wearied from unwavering routine, anchored to his post in a bucket of cement.

Ryan Johnson's Biography

Ryan Johnson
Born in 1978, Karachi, Pakistan
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York


Description of a Struggle, Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York City, NY

Watchman, Guild & Greyshkul (Spring 2008);

Ambien Eyes, Franco Soffiantino Gallery, Turin, Italy

Modern Human Animal, LFL Gallery, project room, New York, NY


Pewter Wings, Golden Horns, Stone Veils - Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam

Painting and Sculpture, Lehmann Maupin, New York City, NY
Precarity and the Butter Tower, Bryan Miller Gallery, Houston, TŘ
Precarity and the Butter Tower, CTRL Gallery, Houston, TŘ

On From Here, Guild & Greyshkul, New York, New York
Abstract America: New Painting and Sculpture, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK

Imaginary Thing curated by Peter Eleey, Aspen Museum of Art, Aspen, Colorado

Brain Form, Guild & Greyshkul, New York City, NY
Capricci (possibilités d'autres mondes),Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg
M*A*S*H New York, Cottelston Advisors, New York, NY

Metaphysics of youth, Ex Mercato Ortofrutticolo Pescara, (Curated by Irina Zucca Alessandrelli and Luigi Fassi)
Turn the Beat Around, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY
Ionesco's friends, Franco Soffiantino Gallery, Turin, (Curated by Irina Zucca Alessandrelli)

Greater New York, PS1, Queens, NY
Who is the Protagonist?, Guild and Greyshkul, New York, NY, (curated by Ohad Meromi)

Pattern Play-back The Moore Space, Miami, FL, (curated by Silvia Cubina)
Four-Ply, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, NY
Hung, Drawn, and Quartered, Team Gallery, New York, NY, “ (curated by Miriam Katzeff)

Pantone Massimo Audiello, New York, NY, (curated by David Hunt)
Burnt Orange Heresy, Space 101, Brooklyn, NY.