Michael Johnson | Art Gallery of New South Wales


Michael Johnson, Frontal 2, 1968, Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 198.5 x 214cm

Michael Johnson’s work ‘Frontal 2‘ as well as a selection of drawings have been put on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until late June 2014. The works are from the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ collection. The drawings, ‘Untitled’, acrylic, crayon & oilstick on paper, date from 1980 and were purchased from his exhibition ‘Small works on paper’ held that year at Gallery A.

“Michael Johnson, Sydney Ball, Dick Watkins and Tony McGillick all showed work in ‘The field’ exhibition held at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1968, the first comprehensive survey of Australian colour-field painting. Johnson’s works from the 1960s onwards are primarily concerned with colour and the manipulation of spatial planes through colour relationships. ‘Frontal 2’ was one of two works he exhibited in The field. He developed it out of a series of modular-shaped canvases he began in 1965 in London, where he was able to experience first-hand the works of the New York School artists.” – Art Gallery of New South Wales

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Rd
The Domain 2000 Sydney


Artwork for the Home | Mim Design

It can be hard to picture the transition of a work from stark gallery wall to domestic everyday setting. However the experience of living with an artwork allows a much deeper appreciation and understanding of an artists’ work – discovering new details, observing subtle shifts in light throughout the day, shaping the mood and feeling of a space and dictating further art and design purchases. The work of Olsen Irwin artists Melinda Harper, Michael Johnson, Paul Davies and Matthew Johnson are feature pieces in the stunning interiors below from Melbourne design firm, Mim Design. And while these perfectly manicured interiors may be a far cry from your everyday family life, they do offer some style cues that can be applied when styling a room around an artwork, from allowing a work to take centre stage to picking up on subtle colours and tones with accent accessories and figuring out the appropriate scale of work for the room.


Mim Design. Painting by Melinda Harper


Mim Design. Painting by Michael Johnson

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Mim Design. Painting (left) by Paul Davies and (right) by Matthew Johnson


Mim Design. Painting by Michael Johnson


Mim Design. Painting by Matthew Johnson

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Mim Design. Painting (left) by Michael Johnson and (right) by Matthew Johnson


Mim Design. Painting by Melinda Harper


Michael Johnson, Studio Notes

Michael Johnson, Studio Image

Michael Johnson, Studio Image

Studio Notes

May 7th, 2013

Michael Johnson has had a long time to think about geometry. If you ask him to discuss the difference between a circle and a square he will refer to astronomy rather than the picture plane. The law of intersection between horizontal and vertical is where he is working and there is a great deal of room to play in this zone.

In this spirit are new works that confounded what many had come to expect from his painting and on first view it was a challenge to try and reconcile what looked like three different exhibitions in one studio.

Seeing the new work for the first time, there were two large paintings that looked like monumental ‘classic’ Johnsons many smaller oil studies that had the architectonic rigidity of his 80s paintings and drawings, and then a body of anthropomorphic works that were (apparently) like nothing he had ever created before. I mean CIRCLES! And Flat colour and allusions to the human body. This was shocking for a geometrically purist, often lyrical, but resolutely abstract painter.

But after about two more visits, and a quick recollection of the Matisse retrospective at MOMA in the 90s, a rationale began to surface.

Johnson said:

“Sometimes in a series of work I have to leave the ocean and vast river and side track up the creek of my past work to be borne back into ideas and places I have not fully digested: drawings, quick studies, calligraphy, work made in hotel rooms etc…” Continue reading

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