Kerry Johns: The Lie of the Land
05 - 27 August 2017
"Being at home in the landscape is a painter's solace, and painters have long felt the need to observe and re-create the natural world.
The big skies and rolling vistas of the Monaro and Limestone Plains are the landscapes that give me that sense of belonging. I find the rapid changes of sunshine and shadow chasing across this part of world wonderfully stirring. The open smooth barked forests seem benign and welcoming.
It has given me the imagery for this exhibition The Lie of the Land which developed as a result of a different approach for me. I began most of the paintings en plein air followed by work in the studio in which memory, depiction and interpretation were shaped together.
Painting directly from the motif meant a fresh encounter with landscape. It encouraged a pleasure in observation and an immediacy in my way of working, as well as a strong emotional response. Trying to observe accurately yet at the same time make visual sense out of the complexity took me towards naturalistic imagery, tempered by my habit of seeking the abstract in whatever I see.
The fact that I had walked in these places and taken in something of their mystical value seemed to bring to the studio an ease and a confidence which is the hallmark of contact with Nature.
The Lie of the Land refers to the impression of a landscape being laid out before one’s eyes, spread as a vast affirmative offering that fills the heart with gratitude. The language to express such an impression has come unsurprisingly in the form of both naturalism and abstraction.
The stylistic language forms naturally out of the process. Intuitive exploration of a subjective response gives me a path to follow and a way of working. The world beyond appearances is opened up by the search itself.
I like to remind myself that I am dealing with colour, tone and paint on a flat surface, and that this is the painting’s foremost truth. The grand passion of illusion always needs to submit to the democracy of the paint and picture plane."