SMITH, Cape Town
Remnant (2019), Johnson’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, turns towards the stories and secrets contained within negative space, focusing less on objects themselves than on the stories and impressions that shape our memory of them.
To describe her objects, Johnson treats our interaction with them as clues, but sees the remnants of an object as equally valid. That which is not included is regarded equally evocative and suggestive. Select works were inspired by stories of memorable or otherwise personal objects gathered via interviews with a range of subjects, from strangers to friends and colleagues. In the process Johnson unearthed her own personal narrative: a familial preoccupation with fabric that extended back generations.
Inscription / Conhada ofereceme no
dia da Festa de 1960, 2019
Found Material, 239 x 77 cm
Loose Grip, 2019
Fabric and found oak lintel, 340 x 109 x 10 cm
“What do we make of memories that don’t have a conduit to anchor them in time and place? Are these any more or less reliable - and how do we represent them visually? My instinct was to try create something that looked the way it feels; with the weight of substance in competition with the flimsy nature of memory.”
Found Material, 100 x 73 cm
With Remnant, Johnson is part archivist and part historian, piecing together a story from fragments of things and memories. Found objects and impressions are then hauled out of context, obstructed in their ability to speak for themselves. In other cases, the unearthed stories and memories are unaccompanied and ungalvanised by objects, existing as they do as Chinese whispers, passed on with cumulative abstraction over time.
Remnant Studies 1 & 2, 2019
Acrylic on paper, 94 x 134 cm
If Memory Serves, 2019
Video Projection onto fabric 9
15 x 510 x 2 cm, length: 05.42min
Plain as Day, 2019
Video Projection, 360 x 130 x 1 cm Length: 02.31 min
Exhibiting a video installation looping the shadow of a pair of trousers flapping in the breeze, by repurposing the discarded fabric left aside after a garment is cut, or when studying the various folds in a selection of found handkerchiefs, Johnson treats the secondary and abstract as empirically valid. By providing ‘real world’ glimpses that speak sometimes directly and sometimes obliquely to the surrounding artworks, Johnson reiterates the notion that what isn’t apparent is as expressive as what is.
Warp and Weft, 2019
Acrylic on paper 107 x 76 cm
“Something unsaid, a musical note withheld, the creases in a folded but unused handkerchief or the shadow of a pair of trousers flapping on the washing line - these details are as empirical as anything else. They are statements, if you like, that speak to what I believe to be a truer nature of objects, which are nothing definite or definable in and of themselves but subjects to the vagaries of our own differing perceptions.”
A Lennox & Sons of Armagh, 2019
Acrylic on canvas, 56 x 55 cm
Canvas paintings are framed with exposed fabric hanging like an untucked shirt suggesting that canvas, like clothing, is at first a fabric and a screen upon which we project and impose our own impressions - and tell our own stories.
In the Event of a Special Occasion, 2019
Acrylic on canvas,125 x 83 cm
Text by Matthew Freemantle