I encountered David Johnson‘s work for the first time in a retrospective exhibition, Returning Light, at Dean Clough Galleries in Halifax in 2007. I have read that he seeks to create contemplative art; with a simple presence but with a density to it such as one might experience with poetry. He succeeds wonderfully.
I have realised that one of the reasons I want to draw together a series of posts on art I love is because it allows me to think more deeply and in a much more considered fashion what great and enduring art is all about. And one of the key elements is an apparently effortless simplicity which leaves the viewer with a density of thought and feeling about the experience of the encounter for a long time after.
The particular work I have chosen is Imaginary Landscape No 2 (19(87)97), which comprised a wardrobe, entirely dark inside. The door however had been left ajar, and a slide projection of light presented an illusion of light escaping from the wardrobe. It defied logic. It still does, today, when I revisit the images of the installation.
At first sight, the light from the wardrobe for me seemed a curious but beautiful evocation of nostalgia and childhood mystery. It was only after a few minutes that the curiosity of an internal light source prompted a questioning of the reality/unreality of the experience of the work. Suddenly, quiet contemplation of the calm beauty was interrupted by a sense of shock and disbelief. And above all, How? So simple and yet so complex. So tranquil and yet so disturbing. Extraordinary art.