New York

Michael Johnson

132 Bowery

Michael Johnson showed paintings at his studio that were subsequently shipped off to the antipodes for an exhibition, whence they’ll probably not return. Johnson started to paint in Australia and then spent some years in England before coming here. It shows. However, his work has persisted in being an intelligent articulation of color through a vocabulary derived from that history. Gold Nomore 1974 is an atypical painting in that it has a fifth color, a block of white at the top right. Usually there are four, three blocks and the ground. Since one tends to see changes of value and hue on a flat surface in terms of foreground, middle-ground, background—one is, perhaps, unavoidably a victim of the Renaissance at least to this extent—one’s impulse is to identify one of the blocks with the color of the ground. This allows the work to suggest a kind of dialectic between that pair and the other two blocks. The large size of these works seems justified in that it extends the work toward one’s peripheral vision. Like Alan Cote, Johnson seems to want to go as far toward an involvement with real space as the circumscription of an abstract pictorialism will permit.

––Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe