I create paintings with a collage sensibility. They are informed by an ongoing investigation into the effects of color and form in various states of collision on the surface of the substrate. It is an idealist, modernist interest that has manifested as a non-referential, rhythmic, geometric abstraction.
Structured figure/ground relationships explore the push-pull of form and color in the space within the edges of the rectangle. Here I am viscerally exploring how painting and collage can formally work together. Each new concept is an immersion in shifting planes and forms that afford limitless experimentation in which I attempt to mine the dual role that color can play both as content and as structure. The work has a dynamic, haptic quality, as if one could reach in and shift, reposition or rearrange the layers within the frame. Saturated flat color fields are layered and shuffled in degrees of reveal to float above or recede beneath the picture plane.
I disrupt and concretize the immaculate color planes of the composition through scraped and incised marks on the picture surface. This reveals the layers beneath so that the final image is not only the outcome of a sequencing of additive flat layers but also has painterly gestural qualities.
The resulting work is a freeze frame of a kinetic procedure. Thrill is won in the seeking of an image and the realization of it in my attempt to impose order on fluid chaos, finding a way to the final image by puzzling through it, leaving behind evidence of execution.
While the work is formally intuitive, it is calculated in its design and plotting, playing juxtaposed elements and relational situations against one another in the layering and building of the planar surfaces. This is the continuation of a utopian fascination with color-as-form
that began in my childhood, and which continued to inspire through my discovery of the revelatory work of the Russian avant-garde, the De Stijl group, the Bauhaus, and the Polish constructivists Strzemiński & Kobro.
Celia Johnson’s paintings have been exhibited in several museums and galleries across the United States: at the Cameron Art Museum, The Painting Center, the GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Sam & Adele Golden Foundation, and was a guest participant at the inaugural M. David & Co. / Judy Pfaff Foundation Residency in Tivoli, NY. A 30-piece installation of her work has been acquired by the corporate collection of Credit Suisse, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Celia Johnson lives and works in Chapel Hill, NC.