"I use the outside world as inspiration and particular places as objects of meditation and reflection." Ben Johnson
For his second exhibition at Alan Cristea Gallery, Ben Johnson will present six new intricate paintings of half real, half imagined interiors.
Johnson's work has been described by Edward Lucie-Smith as a paradox in that it is both real and abstract, "the expression of a finely tuned sense of geometrical order". Indeed, it is the geometrical precision of Johnson's work that creates the illusion of complex, three-dimensional space within his canvases. He draws the viewer into his own, reconstructed vision of reality: the viewer inhabits not the building itself but Johnson's interpretation of it.
Moving away from his more pristine, dreamlike works which depicted modern architectural spaces, in this set of paintings Johnson confronts the physical scars embedded in his chosen spaces. The artist is intrigued by the notion that layers of the past can be left written on interior architecture; the energy of a place cannot be changed by decoration.
Johnson's Museum Rooms series (2011-2014) depicts the interior of the Neues Museum, Berlin, which was significantly damaged during World War II, and left as a derelict bombsite until David Chipperfield and Julian Harrap's painstaking restoration work in 2003. The damage inflicted on the building by war is still partially visible today, and is reflected in Johnson's paintings which document the museum before and after the works. A homely domestic Mexican interior (now the Museo Regional de la Revolución) painted by Johnson belies a tragic past not immediately noticeable; only upon closer inspection do the bullet holes embedded in the brightly-coloured walls become apparent.