Art I Love: David Johnson’s Imaginary Landscape no 2

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.

Imaginary Landscape no 2 (19(87)97) by David Johnson

Imaginary Landscape no 2 (19(87)97) by David Johnson

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.

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6 responses to Art I Love: David Johnson’s Imaginary Landscape no 2

  1. margaret nickels

    If you had not told me it is a wardrobe I would have said that it is a window with full length shutters ,not as romantic as the ‘real’ answer but still provocative in its own way .I do not know this Artist and am pleased to find out about him through your blog; I looked at some other stuff of his and he certainly challenges perceptions.Thank you .

    • gillianholding – Author

      did you see the ‘window’ one he did? equally powerful and surprising. it used the same principle of projecting the ‘light’ coming through… Glad you found this interesting!

  2. margaret nickels

    Yes I did and found it rather chilling ( fascinating as well) but I am not sure that I can articulate why it had that effect on me .

    • gillianholding – Author

      I know what you mean about chilling. I think for me it was the slightly bare, institutional feel to the image. It was very very bleak.

  3. […] Successful art for me often has this quality. I posted last year about a fascinating art exhibition in Paris on this very broad topic and if I weren’t tapping this out on my mobile and frustrated by intermittent ‘connectivity’ issues, I would post the link to it. Then there’s the contemplative and intriguing light installation art of David Johnson. […]

  4. […] Successful art for me often has this quality. I posted last year about a fascinating art exhibition in Paris on this very broad topic and if I weren’t tapping this out on my mobile and frustrated by intermittent ‘connectivity’ issues, I would post the link to it. Then there’s the contemplative and intriguing light installation art of David Johnson. […]

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