Experiments in Form

Abstract Sketch, Clay Johnson
Abstract Sketch, Clay Johnson

Lately I’ve been exploring some ideas with regard to form and (at times) representation. I have always been an abstract painter, so on a personal level I have some interest in seeing what would happen if I were to actually represent something—if I were to paint a picture “of something.” What would that something be, and how would I represent it? These initial experiments simply take the first step by creating an object/ground scenario, something that is almost entirely absent in the series that I’ve been working on for the last several years. I would have to say that anything approaching realism is out of the question because for me painting is an exercise in self-expression and improvisation that is not compatible with the obligation to make things look “correct.” Even representing objects in any sense at all may prove more restrictive than I can abide, but for now it’s interesting to see what develops. So far I’ve found that I’m drawn to images (shapes) that are not recognizable as things that I see around me, but which convey certain familiar attitudes and are subject to the natural forces (laws of physics) that govern elements in the physical world.

Three Sketches

Sketch #1, by Clay Johnson
Sketch #2, by Clay Johnson
Sketch #3, by Clay Johnson

I’ve made some small painting experiments lately that focus more on the materiality of paint and less on the geometric compositional structure that I’ve used for the last several years. The result is a looser, freer feeling that really appeals to me. Where this is headed I can’t say for sure, but for now it’s a matter of finding the right balance between structure and chaos.

“Beneath the Surface” at William Havu Gallery

Installation view of Clay Johnson's show at Havu Gallery, 2021
Beneath the Surface, an exhibition of new paintings opened last night at William Havu Gallery in Denver. Thanks so much to everyone who came out for the opening. It was a really nice evening, and Bill and Nick did a fantastic job of curating and installing the show. This exhibition runs through the end of July and also includes work by Laura Wait and Sheryl Zacharia.

Solo Exhibition at Page Bond Gallery

The Way It Happened, 2021, acrylic on aluminum panel, 36" x 48" by Clay Johnson
Over the Line: New Paintings by Clay Johnson opens today at Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. I first met Page about two years ago while visiting her gallery—truly one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces I have seen. Since then Page has included my work in a couple of group shows, but this is my first one-person exhibition at the gallery. Of course, due to Covid-19, normal exhibition openings are not happening right now, so I will visit the gallery and see the show later in the month. With a couple of exceptions, these are brand new paintings created specifically for this exhibition, and I’m excited to see them installed in the gallery.

Exhibition at 555 California Street, San Francisco

Plato's Promise, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 60" by Clay Johnson

Wide Open Spaces: Paintings by Clay Johnson is an exhibition consisting of eleven recent works, installed in the A.P. Giannini Gallery (Bank of America Building), 555 California Street in downtown San Francisco. The exhibition is curated by Casey & Associates Art Advisors, and artwork is courtesy of Kim Eagles-Smith Gallery. The show will be up through August 1.