GE­OF­FREY JOHN­SON

En­hanc­ing the City

American Art Collector - - Contents -

Much of an artist’s goal is finding new and in­trigu­ing ways to present fa­mil­iar sub­ject mat­ter. They are of­ten places and ob­jects they know in­ti­mately and have been ex­plor­ing in their work for decades. Such is the case for North Carolina-based artist Ge­of­frey John­son whose monochro­matic paint­ings of New York City brim with the en­ergy of the place as well as a calm­ness in the simplicity of the com­po­si­tion. The sky­scrapers and peo­ple have been his muses, with every turn pro­vid­ing new in­sight and ideas.

“I just love the city. It’s had an im­pact on me from an early age,” says John­son. “I love the ar­chi­tec­ture, and the peo­ple in the city in­ter­act­ing with the ar­chi­tec­ture, and the whole set­ting is just very ap­peal­ing or at­trac­tive. I’ve never re­ally seen it in color that much, so to me it’s very monochro­matic, al­most black and white. That’s the feel­ing I get, and that’s where that pal­ette came from.”

Over the years, John­son has fo­cused on in­ter­pret­ing the city in fresh ways—adding color, sim­pli­fy­ing the com­po­si­tions, view­ing it from dif­fer­ent van­tage points.

In one of John­son’s new­est pieces, Red City, he changes the black-and-white world into one with reds, whites and blacks, pro­vid­ing a fresh take on uni­fied hues. This piece, and oth­ers he has done in a sim­i­lar man­ner, was in­spired by the screen­prints of Andy Warhol. “I had seen a cou­ple of his prints in a gallery

and they stuck in my head,” says John­son. “Us­ing and cre­at­ing one tone, one color ink, I thought would be in­ter­est­ing to take over into a paint­ing and study one day.”

Some of his other works, such as City in Pur­ple with Gray, were in­spired by see­ing the city from be­yond its streets. “A year ago, I did a boat tour around Man­hat­tan, which I hadn’t done be­fore,” re­calls the artist. “So it was see­ing the city from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive for sure. I think [the idea for these works] stemmed from that; it just sticking in my head and see­ing it from that view.”

He has also re­cently added in­te­rior scenes to his reper­toire, which col­lec­tors will find hang­ing along­side his cityscapes in his up­com­ing solo exhibition at Hu­bert Gallery from April 26 to May 12.

“[New York City’s] had an im­pact on me from an early age. I love the ar­chi­tec­ture, and the peo­ple in the city in­ter­act­ing with the ar­chi­tec­ture, and the whole set­ting is just very ap­peal­ing or at­trac­tive.”

Hu­bert Gallery 16 E. 79th Street • New York, NY 10075 (212) 628-2922 • www.hu­bert­gallery.com

1 City in Pur­ple with Gray, oil on can­vas, 50 x 60"

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