Enhancing the City
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"