View list of exhibitions

In Colour - Robert Klippel: Sculpture and Works on Paper 1962-1998
A life of art – from the Estate of Jocelyn Plate
Sydney Contemporary
A Curator's Collection: Works from the Estate of Sally Couacaud
Winter 2022
Julie Green: New Drawings 2020-22
Autumn 2022 - from Private collections
Summer 2021-2022
Explore - Sydney Contemporary Online 2021
Spring 2021
Autumn 2021
Early Works – Tim Johnson 1969-1998
Summer 2020
Robert Klippel on Paper, 1950-1963
Winter 2020
Summer 2019
Michael Johnson, Dance of Line 1979
Spring 2019
Winter 2019
Tiwi, Wigram and Elcho Island Art from the Laverty Collection
Carl Plate, The Last Show He Never Had 1971-1976
Summer 2018
Poetically Microscopic from the Estate of Robert Klippel
Spring 2018
Liane Rossler - inside. outside. upsidedown.
Fred Cress Full Circle: Paintings and works on paper 1965-2009
Winter 2018
Michael Johnson 2013-2016
Other Worlds
Summer 2017
Carl Plate - Hard Colour: Paris Works 1970-1971
Michael Johnson 1968-1978
Winter 2017
Masters of Australian Photography - A Private collection
Autumn 2017 - Part II
Autumn 2017
Sweet Nature
Louise Hearman
Winter 2016
Autumn 2016
Spring 2015
Michael Johnson Diagonal Light - Works from 1980-1986
A Private Collection 2
Winter 2015
Shelfie - Liane Rossler
A Private Collection - Gary Sands
Summer 2014
Winter 2014
Michael Johnson London-Sydney-New York 1960s & 1970s
Contemporary History 1974-2009
Summer 2013-2014
Spring 2013
Winter 2013
Summer 2012-2013
Winter 2012
Autumn 2012
Summer 2011
Spring 2011
Autumn 2011
Summer 2010-2011
Fairweather, Williams and others
Winter 2010
Summer 2009-2010
Spring 2009
Winter 2009
BIG NAMES little sculptures


Michael Johnson
Two Decades
Three Cities
Vault magazine

Michael Johnson London-Sydney-New York 1960s & 1970s


COLOUR NOTES by Michael Johnson “I always associate colour with entity: the constantly shifting context, the mutability, the power of one colour to completely transform another by virtue of placement or proximity. I don’t find any energy in geometry. Energy resides instead in the expansion and contraction of colour. Geometry is just the aperture. This said, there is always a geometrical basis to my work. The very early organic abstractions, the minimal geometric abstraction and then the lyrical or gestural works, are all operating on a grid of some kind and the thread that links all of my work is colour. I once said that colour in nature is dictated by light and colour in art is arranged by the mind. In a sense it is invented, purely invented in painting. There is no art “from nature” because the palette is a chemical echo. And that invention for me is not based on formal theory or intellect. When I was asked to teach colour theory at Croydon College of Arts (in the early 60s), I replied to the faculty: I can only experiment with colour, I can’t teach it. My path way through the spectrum is intuitive, every artist has their own register, their own tolerance for density, clarity or scale. My relationship with colour began tentatively. As a teenager I would paint gouache over black and white reproductions. The art prints I grew up with were those of van Gogh, Vermeer and Albert Pinkham Ryder. The clear almost naked colour of Matisse and Gauguin were art works I saw beyond my boyhood and early art training was locked firmly inside tonality. My arrival at the point of using un-mixed colour began with crayon drawings and studies and then exploded into large scale works after encounters with architecture in Greece and the Quatro-cento masters of Florence en route to London. The clarity, meditative concentration and frontal confrontation that I wanted to generate in these works came from ancient or less obvious sources. So it wasn’t a matter of translating American art or Modernist thinking as a formal template, but a much more personal interpretation. In a composition like “Slow Lap” I was considering a visit to Stonehenge in 1961 where the lintels and supports appeared to be both sheltering from and supporting the sky. Colour wed to form created a potent elemental force, and this is what cleaves painting from design. The symbolism is personal even if the shapes are archetypal. History might isolate geometric abstraction as a style moment or a sensation. But my work at that time was operating like a Zebra stripe: playing with camouflage, combining geometry, form and contrast to play with light and scale. In nature, colour creates optical intensity that distracts, it literally bends form. In paintings that use pure colour, the canvas can take on an almost sculptural quality. These are ideas that have been in place in my work from the early 60s onwards and in that time I did not mix colour or work tonally. Every hue is its own entity, raw yet mutable, and every composition is the place where my perception of colour is shocked back into recognition.” Michael Johnson, 2014, Sydney

Show exhibition essay

COLOUR NOTES by Michael Johnson

“I always associate colour with entity: the constantly shifting context, the mutability, the power of one colour to completely transform another by virtue of placement or proximity. I don’t find any energy in geometry. Energy resides instead in the expansion and contraction of colour. Geometry is just the aperture. This said, there is always a geometrical basis to my work. The very early organic abstractions, the minimal geometric abstraction and then the lyrical or gestural works, are all operating on a grid of some kind and the thread that links all of my work is colour.

I once said that colour in nature is dictated by light and colour in art is arranged by the mind. In a sense it is invented, purely invented in painting. There is no art “from nature” because the palette is a chemical echo. And that invention for me is not based on formal theory or intellect. When I was asked to teach colour theory at Croydon College of Arts (in the early 60s), I replied to the faculty: I can only experiment with colour, I can’t teach it. My path way through the spectrum is intuitive, every artist has their own register, their own tolerance for density, clarity or scale.

My relationship with colour began tentatively. As a teenager I would paint gouache over black and white reproductions. The art prints I grew up with were those of van Gogh, Vermeer and Albert Pinkham Ryder. The clear almost naked colour of Matisse and Gauguin were art works I saw beyond my boyhood and early art training was locked firmly inside tonality. My arrival at the point of using un-mixed colour began with crayon drawings and studies and then exploded into large scale works after encounters with architecture in Greece and the Quatro-cento masters of Florence en route to London. The clarity, meditative concentration and frontal confrontation that I wanted to generate in these works came from ancient or less obvious sources. So it wasn’t a matter of translating American art or Modernist thinking as a formal template, but a much more personal interpretation. In a composition like “Slow Lap” I was considering a visit to Stonehenge in 1961 where the lintels and supports appeared to be both sheltering from and supporting the sky. Colour wed to form created a potent elemental force, and this is what cleaves painting from design. The symbolism is personal even if the shapes are archetypal.

History might isolate geometric abstraction as a style moment or a sensation. But my work at that time was operating like a Zebra stripe: playing with camouflage, combining geometry, form and contrast to play with light and scale.

In nature, colour creates optical intensity that distracts, it literally bends form. In paintings that use pure colour, the canvas can take on an almost sculptural quality. These are ideas that have been in place in my work from the early 60s onwards and in that time I did not mix colour or work tonally. Every hue is its own entity, raw yet mutable, and every composition is the place where my perception of colour is shocked back into recognition.”

Michael Johnson, 2014, Sydney

Michael Johnson

Sofala 1965

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Sharp (also known as Wave) 1965

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Blinkers 1966

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Frontal 1968

Michael Johnson

Spiral VI 1971

SOLD

Michael Johnson

N.Y.C 1974

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Senegal Friend 1974

Michael Johnson

Torso 1965

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Study for Anna 1965

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Untitled 1965

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Untitled 1965

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Untitled 1965

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Study for Frontals 1966

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Study for Frontals 1966

Michael Johnson

Collage 1972

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Two Fold Homage to a Square 1973

SOLD

Michael Johnson

Diagonals 1975

Michael Johnson

Taylor Square Series 1978

SOLD