Abstraction in landscape and portrait

Jolanta Johnsson’s work is a very humanistic narrative. The author is really interested in two issues only: human and nature. The dynamics of her artistic path are due to the fact that at certain times one theme dominates over the other, is more and more explored and more impassions the painter. But never has the exclusivity. When series of landscapes are created – as it is happening now – Johnsson from time to time still returns to portraiture. Often, moreover, are the returns to older works, with the attempt of deepening them psychologically or changing them completely, with newly selected techniques or meanings.  This is why the construction of this exhibition is dualistic. 

The leading theme is the latest series of landscapes. They form a kind of balancing act between abstract and realism. In my opinion they express what it is in any work most valuable – the synthesis. Two series of works relate to the element of water. Each of them shows the subject from a different point of view. The attempt of watching the water’s surface from above brings the interesting results. On one side is depicted the vibrating existence of color patches, on the other are the reflections of the sky and clouds. These impressions were captured on significantly sized canvases. The author also focuses on movement on smaller works, which can create spontaneous frieze, and which form of exposure – vertical or horizontal – does not seem to be a pre-requisite. But this is not a nervous twitch and iridescence of the surface, but fluidity, mobility of the element, which here although it is relieved and threatens no one, it shows its overwhelming power. 

The recent Johnsson’s landscape paintings stand out against her previous achievements with the choice of colors and the method of applying them. This change is another determinant of the dynamics of the author’s paintings. In certain periods of her artistic career the colors of her work are sonorous, with clean, lush palette, balanced with strong contrasts, which cause the impression of fluorescence. In other periods she is interested with monochrome creations only, almost with no nuanced contrast, where search for pure color fails. The shapes are embedded in the background completely, protruding from it, with color and impasto as well. This variability in the artist’s work makes Jolanta’s achievements constantly intriguing to the viewer. For her the creation of her works is indeed a never-ending adventure. Recent landscapes are an emanation of pure colors and strong contrast. The situation in which the color is a response to the light. 

At the opposite extreme is the work of a few monochromatic portraits. I will come back to them, only signaling their presence now, to show that the artist’s one series of landscapes is essentially a formal transition between these two themes. I am pointing out the series „Clouds Over the Fields”.  Not very large number of works in muted colors completes the capabilities of Johnsson’s palette. Although they are dim in color, they also do not resign from contrast. The creation of these intriguing images hopefully will be developed. Rounded, very sensual shapes show nature in its successive layers.  They indicate that we are a part of it, that we cannot be abstracted from it. It’s another way of looking at nature, not from the top, rather from the inside. The presence of this series of works shows the analytical abilities of the artist, her temperament of a scientist who is deeply absorbed in tracking a problem. 

This approach to the landscape is visible when one collides with different series of paintings. Looking at Johnsson’s present human portraits and figures one does not need statements to capture the analytical attitude of the artist. Here you can see exactly scientific meticulousness of the considerations and in-depth psychological approach. It’s not just about depicting the truth of the model. The process goes much further, to the purely painterly level, when the image breaks away from the man, becomes an anatomical representation – again synthesis – of the human condition. 

This argument is easily defendable because Jolanta Johnsson reveals – as the part of the exhibition – the secrets of her workmanship.  The artist also shares them in media interviews.  She is interested not only in painting, but also in drawing and printmaking. Each of these techniques requires a different approach. The ink drawing do not allow the torturous, arduous amendments, which some of Johnsson’s images can not defend. The printmaking operates through experiment and subsequent matrices, reproduced on the same sheet. They are not retouches, but next layers of meanings. When one combines together all the stories of man, it emerges from them their deep humanistic metaphor of human life. Not very optimistic, but definately real. 

Agnieszka Gniotek

 

Man in space – space in man, Gallery on 1st Floor, ZPAP, Łódź

One doesn’t trigger the form, one does not release the figures.
On the contrary, you can only connect them,
the only way to free them is to bind them,
by finding their binders,
ties, which they create them,
connect them with each other.

Jean Baudrillard, Conspiracy of Art

 

What is most interesting in Jolanta Johnsson’s painting, takes place mainly in the construction of the mold.  The artist by using  the postmodernism’s theories, draws from the ideas of deconstruction (deconstruction - another creation process as a whole) a thorough analysis of the works of art, challenging the problems of the illusion, created by light and color of the space’s structure. For  the contemporary artist is not easy to create a completely original and unique art, because there is a belief that, in principle, all within a specific genus and species it has already been discovered.

The invention of form" seems to be impossible. Therefore, the postmodernism opens up at the processing, development, exploitation of the achievements, that have already occurred. It lets the artist in the creative process to bring the originality of their own historical experience, perception, understanding of the reality.

Jolanta Johnsson in a creative way refers to neo impressionism, colorism and expressionism. In her paintings, centered around the theme “ a man in space”, she shows the human as creature condemned to profound loneliness, even in relationships with other people. Her painting combines with the philosophy of existentialism, in which a person is recognized as free, condemned of the necessity of choice and responsibility creature. It leads to the feeling of fear, hopelessness of existence in the world of alienation and suffering.

The artist, by keeping on the edge of drama, captures the spirit of the inability to communicate with the "other foreigner" and finding the unity with the world . She paints with tiny points of color, applying layer upon layer. With this technique, color and light model the body, forming the reference and the unity with space. The different intensity of light’s color bring out the shapes of human figures from the background. Framed and isolated by a strong contour, they shine like esoteric aura. Sometimes the human’s body is determined more by the formation of the small strands arranged in rhythms filling the form.

The use of strong contrasts increases the expression of the paintings and makes a deep impact of space analyzed by color and divisions. The harmony of the elements of the composition, internal divisions, the static poses, give a clarity to the message and add to it a balance in terms of the content and the form. The world created in this way appears to be woven from the luminous matter, composed of space, which the structures are like complex network of relationships between different parts of an existing, fully observed whole.

Such an artistic vision of the objective reality is close to modern physical theories, so it is no surprise that the painter also challenges a much more complicated problem: the space in human. It concerns not only the internal states of the soul, which indicate personality in a situation in which it is shown the figure, but also in its vibrating, energetic materiality, the basis for delineating of an existence.

The landscapes painted by Jolanta Johnsson, complement the artistic realm of exploration. They are characterized by a similar creative technique, by the simplifications and strong divisions, by the synthetism, suggesting a role of significant forms, which more or less definitely blur the boundaries between realism and abstraction.

The whole of Jolanta Johnsson work combines a difficult to obtain intellectual simplicity, the logical rigor of structured composition, the geometrization of the forms and divisions of the plane, proportionality, the elements’ harmony and consonance of the colors. The vibrant colors and light, the inherent dynamism achieved through the technique, form her own unique artistic style.

Maria Kępińska
Lódź, February 2013

The opinion of the Phd process in the field of the visual art, in the chapter – fine art

The prepared by the artist PhD work is presented by a series of a dozen or so oil on canvas paintings, which in form and meaning are united. The series is called – “Man in space” – the artistic portrait of human’s figure in different planes, which describes the loneliness and the processes of searching the dialog with the others. The meaning of the title is explained in the PhD thesis’ description, where also we can find the very detailed information about the inspiration of the series. These paintings are the half abstract spectacle of the human’s figure – men and women in different static poses, frozen in stillness. Sometimes they are two of them in the homogenous canvas’ space, sometimes there are more, one on top of the other. Their proportions and size give the meaning of being in the same location, and in this way the space of the paintings is unreal, and the lonely figures, isolated from each other and from the surrounding by thick outline, are like small toy ships drifting in different directions on the one plan space. In some of the paintings the author creates the arbitral geometric divisions, which additionally contrasted by color, emphasis the strangeness of the painted figures. They are seemingly in one space, but divided by invisible borders, maybe by the cages’ walls of own ego. The participation in the union is here the paradoxical catatonic existence in ice frozen incapacity of dialog, in helpless and silent howling loneliness.

prof. Marek Szymański

Jolanta Johnsson - Painting – Gallery "Art Three Times"

Jolanta Johnsson’s landscapes create a gentle aura of mystery, the result of an intense and sensuous experience of nature. The individual compositions are distinguished by a high level of painterly sophistication, evidenced in a discipline of composition and sparing use of colour. The artist contemplates the landscape and discovers ein –ther for herself and for us, her audience – 
a treasure trove of colours, light, romantic elation, or a note of melancholy. In viewing these paintings, we approximate the experience of joy the artist accesses in working the canvas. Above all else we sense that when the artist emerges from the confrontation with nature wherein she seeks direction and solace, she emerges victorious. Her canvases are constructed with great care and premeditation. Blues, greys, and browns form the colour palette that produces the climate of these paintings. The artist explores the potential latent in her materials, juxtaposing coarse and smooth surfaces; incorporating constructs achieved through the decisive manipulation of the rhythm inherent in a given artistic tool and delicately painted planes. The landscape becomes the site of the artist’s quest for a congenial atmosphere capable of compelling the viewer to contemplate the world through the eyes of the painting. A certain longing for all-pervasive harmony thus permeates the work of the artist. 
I have had the opportunity of witnessing Jolanta Johnsson’s artistic achievements, and I can affirm that she offers the viewer a shared experience all the while vretaining the right to freely interpret her subject: the natural form. Her paintings deserve to be viewed with due attention as they exist as an attestation to the professional responsibility of the artist. The suggestiveness of Jolanta Johnsson’s paintings has the effect of plunging the viewer into the lyrical world of distant horizons; it evokes the pleasure of distant voyages into the imaginary.

Zbigniew Pindor 2003

Jolanta Johnsson - The landscapes not forgotten – Art Depot

Jolanta Johnsson’s latest artistic work- the paintings as well as the drawings, balance on the border of abstract and realism. We can read them as the metaphors or allusions of landscape. The exhibition’s title – Art Depot – is very adequate, because the artist’s work are like the moments grabbed from memory, like vacation recollections of the sketches of shapes not seen long time ago, The illusion - the first impression of the viewer is gradually changing to the reality of thoughts, feelings, and emotions connected with the artist’s memories, sensitive reflections, who are able recall them from the past the very subtle sensations. Jolanta Johnsson tries to reach the audience through sensitive way of feeling the nature. Her art is rich in facture, which creates strong composition and construction. This construction is also visible in her drawings, which not only capture in very spontaneous way her first impressions, but also at the same time show her artistic route of thinking and creating the compositions. They direct the poise of inspiration of Johnsson’s work, the harmony taken from nature and from the art of great masters of abstracts. Her artwork is surrounded by aura of mystery, build by colors which are not demonic, they are rather delicate riddle based on simple, well balanced array of tinges. It awakes the interest and absorbs in to artistic space of the composition, not scaring the viewer with unnecessary dynamic, and also not boring with to obvious combinations. The melancholic journeys of light, the landscape’s hot saturation at dusk, the windless thickness of the mountain’s air and music - like drawings, sketched by the waves on the beach’s sand – they are the subjects of these compositions, not the precise pieces of nature. Although the Johnsson’s art doesn’t have anything in common with impressionism, the word impression suits it well. It doesn’t present the quickness of the capturing of the moment, rather all the efforts to express well studied and precised observing of nature. This complete portrait is maybe the one of the most characteristic features of Jonsson’s paintings. When we look at them we know that they are complete, nothing is lacking, they don’t contain unnecessary elements, they are not overdone, to decorative, to loaded, in a contrary they build well thought and closed composition.

Agnieszka Gniotek