Helen Johnson

Helen Johnson

b. 1979, Melbourne, Australia


Painting serves as a critical departure point for Helen Johnson’s practice, as a set of tools that work beyond language to figure the relationship between subjective, internal reckonings and broader cultural constructs. Her works engage a broad visual vernacular, including spasming stock market graphs, colonial blueprints, corporate manuals, grassland ecosystems and cobbled together bodies. Encompassing archival material, contemporary cultural referents and intuitive drawings that are at once loaded and contextually specific, the imagery is treated with an insistently aesthetic approach, with an implicit claim for the continuing possibility of critical engagement through reflective aesthetic experience. The building up of layered surfaces is not merely a technically-driven choice, but also serves as a metaphor for some of the complexities and interplay that operate in the ongoing formation of identity at both personal and national levels in the context of Australia — including ‘the persistence of denialist accounts of colonisation, the relationship between personal and official histories, and more fleeting cultural trends that spike the mix, becoming ever present as we lean into the internet’.



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