Claire Johnson never paints from anybody else's photographs because she needs to "fully connect with the imagery," she says. But her latest landscape paintings have a marvelously paradoxical relationship with distance.
She calls them Romantic, describing filtering the landscapes through and binding them to her emotional memory. She makes these landscapes of Nevada and Denver and Oregon hers, takes them intimately inside her, and that's the vision the painting represents.
But she takes the photographs from, like, 35,000 feet up, from inside the airlock of an airplane, through a nearly unbreakable window. This is possibly the farthest a photographer can get, taking her own pictures with a camera phone, away from the thing she's picturing.
It's a good conflict, this photography of extreme distance paired with the desire to bond. There's a sort of anti-aesthetics to macroscopy. Scope-vision is readily used for fact-gathering, mapping, and diagnosing, rather than exuding or expressing or even just being. Johnson wants elements from both sides: the expressing, the being, the mapping. (Being a Romantic means never having to diagnose.)
Different sections of the paintings have different jobs, which is where the fun is. Segments of mountains are so lush they're foodlike. Hash marks in the desert assemble into abstract patterns, like the hash marks in Australian Aboriginal paintings, which also function both as dreams and facts, with a wondrous look but embedded with actual information about their territory.
You'll want to be surrounded by these things in a pleasingly small room, not to look at them one by one or on a computer screen. They're at LxWxH through Saturday. You'll be walking into a whole field of variable vision. You may even find self-recognition on the walls. Johnson said that when she looked all that way down, she saw the branching of her own veins.
- Courtesy of the artist and LxWxH Gallery
- ANASTOMOSIS (NEVADA) This one has it all. This JPEG doesn't do it justice.