b. 1963, Chichester, UK
1980-82 Diploma in Art and design W.S.C.D 1982 - 85 BA (Hons) Fine Art and Printmaking, Cardiff University.
Alexander Johnson's paintings are rooted in the representational world and initially captivate with a strong use of line and colour. Over time begin they begin to suggest shadows, buildings and figures, hints of colour shine through from the underpainting, there is no attempt to hide the painting process, rather to acknowledge it and incorporate into the finished work. Blocks of colour are couched in soft greys that afford his work a calmness contrasting with a pared-down linear structure which keeps the eye interested and always moving.
Johnson studied Fine Art and Printmaking at Cardiff University graduating with an honours degree in 1985. Initially a figurative painter, he moved towards abstraction in his 40's making geometrical images based on his father's wartime photos which were taken from a Spitfire as part of the Aerial Reconnaissance Service in WW2. These first abstractions used the linear patterns of roads and coastlines from overhead photos of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa and now form part of his visual lexicon. His unusual palette incorporates tones from faded colour film-photography in the 1970's, family photo albums and the pre-digital world. More recently he was artist in residence at Deanland Airfield spending three years creating the Deanland Project and book with photographer John Brockliss.
He now works in a purpose-built studio in East Sussex, in the shadow of the South Downs near where he grew up. His ongoing interests are rooted in memories from his childhood, conflict archaeology from the Second World War and the rural history of his family in Sussex. Coming from five generations of gardeners and fruit growers on his father's side, he has most recently turned his attention to the old orchard, sketching the trees in the garden next to the studio and then painting from memory; using the orchard perhaps a metaphor for regeneration and sustainability.
He says of his work, 'I try not to offer the complete picture and to leave enough space for the viewer to enter the work relate it back to their own life. Everyone will see different things in a painting, depending on their life experience and visual understanding. There are no right or wrong interpretations; it's personal to each individual. For me the best art doesn't give everything away at a first glance, it has a sense of mystery that draws you in over time, giving you the opportunity to create connections, much as you would do with a piece of music. I like my paintings to encourage thought and reflection.'