June 2024 Edition

Artist Focus

Artist Focus: Mitchell Johnson

Musée de la Villa les Camélias in Cap d’Ail, France, presents La Révélation de Meyreuil, an exhibition of 50 small paintings by San Franciso Bay Area artist Mitchell Johnson, on view from May 17 through September 29. Spanning four decades, the show explores the relationship between Johnson’s early work from Europe with recent pieces from California, New England and New York.

Presidio #17 (Emilio), 2024, oil on canvas, 20 x 30". Private Collection. ©2024 Mitchell Johnson On Johnson’s early French landscapes, renowned critic Donald Kuspit remarked:

“But where Cézanne fetishized Mont St. Victoire, implicitly a symbol of his delusion of grandeur—climbing and conquering it with his art—Johnson is down to earth, indeed, in the streets of Meyreuil and the countryside around it. He allows the objects he finds there their everyday autonomy even as he finds aesthetic value in them, rather than reduces them to anonymous abstract form as Cézanne tends to do. In sharp contrast, Johnson’s paintings convey what I would call the serenity of self possession—the calm of mature self-certainty. Where Cézanne was a proto-modernist, making representational works that were implicitly abstract, Johnson is a post-modernist, making abstract works that are implicitly—often explicitly—representational. He is a master of both modes, seamlessly integrating them to memorable effect, for memory at its most insistent is an abstract representation—an aesthetic epiphany.”

  Luxembourg (Sunrise), 2024, oil on canvas, 15 x 18". Private Collection.©2024 Mitchell Johnson   

Meyreuil (Blue Tree), 1991, oil on canvas, 14 x 16". Promised gift to Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence. © 2024 Mitchell Johnson.

The exhibition features paintings on loan from museum and private collections, many never publicly exhibited. —

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