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 definitely real.
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.
Lódź, February 2013