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Matthew Franklin JOHNSON (b.1963)

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Matthew Johnson was born in London in 1963, raised in New York and Sydney and is now based in Melbourne. Graduating from the National Art School in Sydney in 1984, the abstractionist held his first solo exhibition at the Christine Abrahams Gallery in Melbourne in 1989.

Johnson has exhibited extensively throughout Europe and Australia and completed a three-month Australia Council Residency in Barcelona.  The artist’s Solo Exhibitions span the globe: from New Delhi, New York and Hong Kong to France, Berlin and Vietnam and across Australia.

Johnson’s richly pigmented canvases reflect his love of applying and layering paint. His passion for the traditional Japanese methods of mixing rare pigments is seen in the array of precious pigments throughout his studio. Johnson is influenced by the work of Japanese nihonga- style painters who often made pigments from natural materials such as shell. Mixing glistening pigments of different textures, Johnson uses the iridescent pigment iriodin which is made from sand to give his canvases an effervescent glow.

Johnson’s striking abstract paintings are born of emotionally inspired creative processes.

 The geometrics of line and circle are blurred and dissipated in Johnson’s colourful large-scale oil pieces as he explores space, light, speed and tactility.

Johnson investigates the subtleties and complexities of the play of light in the natural world through form:   "Everything we see is conditioned by light and everything we see is transformed by light."

His artistic expression of the natural landscape radiates freshness and presence through his use of complimentary and contrasting colour.  “I carry little things around and make them big.”

 From the memory of colours glimpsed on a bush walk to a few leaves on the ground in Melbourne’s Brunswick, Johnson is an avid collector of inspiration.  

 Like his father, well known abstract painter Michael Johnson, Matthew Johnson refers to himself a colourist and, again like his father, he works abstractly however he rejects any formal relationship to the history of abstraction, even a familial one.

Preferring the more encompassing word ‘environment’ to ‘landscape’, Johnson works with equations of colour.  The process begins with penciling the canvas into tiny grids then filling each square with a round glob of colour. The artist eschews the common contemporary reliance on photography and art historical reference in favour of painting as a self-sufficient practice, a testament to his passion for abstraction.

 Memories of cultural experiences gained through extensive travel: repetitive geometric precision rendered pure abstraction through colour: evocative and emotional; shimmer and blur: the illusion is born.   The journey of the viewer begins.

Matthew Johnson has been widely acknowledged for his continuing contribution to the art world, receiving numerous accolades and awards, including:

2002 Cite des Artes International artist residency, Paris
2001 Artist in Residence, Bundanoon, New South Wales
2000 Arts Victoria, Travel Research Grant, Gabo Island, Victoria
1999-2000 Parks Victoria Artist in residence program, Petty's Orchard,
1989-1999 Artist in residence, Bundaberg Arts Centre, QLD
1995 Travel Research Grant Australia Council (V.A.C.B.)
1993 Fisher's Ghost Art Prize, Campbelltown City Gallery, NSW
1988 Faber Castell Prize for Drawing

Johnson’s stellar career has seen his work featured in notable Collections, including KPMG, Sydney; Allen Allen & Hemsley, Sydney; Artbank, Sydney; Campbelltown City Art Gallery, NSW; Faber Castell Collection, Sydney; Freehill, Hollingdale & Page, Melbourne; Hyatt Hotel, Perth; Mallesons Stephen Jacques, Melbourne; Macquarie Bank; Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Perth; Bundaberg Arts Centre, Queensland; Smorgan Collection, Melbourne; State Bank, Victoria; BHP Collection, Victoria; Deloitte Ross Tohmatsu; Moorilla Museum & Art Gallery, Tasmania; RACV; State Bank, Victoria; Monash Museum of Art; News Corporation, and private collections in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Cologne, Munich, Madrid, New York, Vancouver, Toronto & Canada.


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