Artist Talk on "Grid Paintings"

Artist talk in the Nilson Gallery at Monmouth Museum, host to a cohesive body of paintings by Michael Burris Johnson. Part of the New Jersey Emerging Artist Series, this collection of oil paintings based on the grid occupied the gallery from May 29 - June 28 2015. 

To see the written notes that were prepared for the talk visit my blog,

"Patience" painted prints

“Patience” painted prints will be available at the Monmouth Museum for the duration of my New Jersey Emerging Artist Series show, Grid Paintings. They are 26″ x 13″, printed on heavy fine-art paper, and the textured blooms are painted with acrylic. Limited edition, only 23 were made, each one is hand painted, signed and numbered.

If there are any left after the show I will post a link to buy online.

Reflection on Grid Paintings

With the first grid painting I ever did, “Pale Composition (Horizon of the Senses)”, I drove to the art store and bought two things: the biggest canvas they sold, and the smallest brush they had in stock.

     In retrospect, I understand the tension of the grid painting to be the relation between the size of the canvas and the brush – the canvas becomes large in relation to the small brush, the brush becomes small in relation to the large canvas. This might seem obvious, but consider that the canvas could become small if the brush were larger.

     Meaning, communication, and expression occurs because of this relation between the canvas and the brush – this is the capability of the grid painting – the expression is what occurs between canvas and brush. The difference between sizes is the interval that needs to be traversed – the size of the gap is the monstrous demon to be conquered.

     The difference in sizes is also the measurement of time. The fixed interval of size difference between canvas and brush allows us to set a limit on time, to understand how much time it would take to paint in this speed, in this interval of sizes. To understand that the interval is potentially infinite and capable of being rearranged, helps us understand the same about time. To stretch the imagination: the infinitely small and the infinitely large become the same thing. What is left is the human ability  to fix the relation of differences, to return within limits, and affirm life by returning. The return also runs the risk of becoming infinite – but in the case of the painting, it is never finished, only abandoned.

     Of course, these aspects and fixed differences are subject to rearrangement –   but in the painting each aspect is frozen in place to be seen & felt. This is the force of the painting – the bridge that was built through repetition of the return between two fixed differences. Pale composition is the conquering of the monstrous demon and reaching the limit of what can be sensed of the metaphysical interval between two differences.