The strong winds on Friday, May 24th blew in more than an unseasonable chill! All the way from North Carolina, renowned artist Geoffrey Johnson and his wife, Edith, energized the gallery at the opening of his solo exhibition.
The wine, fruit, and puffy pastry were ready to go as the crowd started to arrive at six o’clock. The main floor of the gallery was a vision in sepia and monochromatic tones. Sporadic splashes of violet, turquoise, and magenta lead the viewer’s eye around the gallery, inviting a second, longer glance.
Johnson began his career painting landscapes, his style evolving over the past two decades to focus on cityscapes. In “Untitled B2”, groups of silhouetted figures mill in the foreground of an impressive skyline. These are not your typical Empire State Building snapshots,but more ambiguous scenes – the setting could be anywhere.
As you draw nearer, seemingly random brushstrokes make up a cohesive thought. Horizontal and vertical strokes make up a sidewalk. Shadowy figures, his deliberate application, and dominating monochrome convey every nuance of light perfectly. Reminiscent of impressionists and post-impressionists like Pisarro, Monet, and Cézanne, Johnson has truly achieves an individual style of his own.
“Untitled B2” – 30×30 oil on panel
When asked the subject for the first painting he ever sold, Johnson’s wife, Edith, replied “Oh, wasn’t it that sailboat in England?”
He laughed reminiscently, “No, no I think it was the sailboat in South Carolina, actually…” He and his wife debated for a moment before deciding it was South Carolinian after all. This subject, radically different than his reflective, ambiguous urban scenes led me to our next question, about how his style has changed over the years.
“I’m definitely using less color, you know. When you first start out as an artist, it’s all about the color and getting it right…. now I’m sort of moving away from that.”
Here are some more paintings currently hanging in the gallery:
“Studio # 6” – 48×36 oil on panel
“City Market” – 44×32 oil on panel
“City Study C” – 17×17 oil on panel