Comparisons to JWM Turner are generally not to be encouraged but unavoidable here considering the subject matter of Alison Johnson’s fantastic seascapes and her wildly romantic treatment of them. Maelstroms, Force 9 gales and seething, turbulent waters are what she loves to paint and when you consider that she’s self-taught, the results are even more remarkable.
Johnson is fascinated by the power of nature: the forces of destruction indistinguishable from the forces of Creation and Man caught in the middle of it all, our fragile structures about to be swept away at any time. Works like ‘Conflict’ and ‘Emerge’ should really be viewed in the flesh, side by side, for their full, elemental impact to be appreciated.
But through the chaos there is balance in structure and tone. Although they appear disorienting, they are strangely grounding and we are left with a feeling of faith in the natural order. Johnson’s technique in oils is quite traditional: she layers the paint using a variety of tools including palette knives, trowels and scrapers. She is equally as adept at using acrylics and mixed media to create the same ‘old master’ aesthetic. She considers a painting finished only when there is nothing more she can add or take away.
Johnson lives in the Midlands and works as a nurse, finding time to paint in her spare time. Despite her busy life, she has been prolific in recent years, exhibiting at the Knapp gallery in London and in group shows all over the country and in Italy. She will exhibit at the Brick Lane gallery in the near future.
by Imogen O'Rorke