I try to make models of reality. By reality I mean the thing you experience. As Kant pointed out centuries ago you can never know the world in itself, but rather what your mind presents to you. The rest is inference.
How you interpret my work will depend what you believe. The metaphor of inside and outside is important (mind and world or, if you prefer, matter and spirit) as is the metaphor of projection. (David Johnson)
As the Guardian critic pointed out, but also in other ways, David Johnson’s work has an unusual standing within the art world. Concrete and direct, yet as densely metaphorical as a poem. Frequently moving viewers to tears, yet driven by intellectual and philosophical intentions. Spiritual, yet produced by someone who calls himself an atheist. Often theatrical and seemingly Romantic, employing virtuoso illusionistic effects, yet about none of those things. His work has been ecstatically received by critics and public, yet is not as widely known as it should be - perhaps partly because a basic shyness has kept him from promoting himself. He is from the generation just before Damien Hirst, but is still producing enormously ambitious new work like no one else's.
Johnson’s work is concerned with the central experience of Being: the ambiguous relation of mind and matter. Within this he has found a new basis for an art which is simultaneously material and interior.
Here are some of his works, some of the things he has written and said about them and some of the essays, reviews and comments written by others.
Imaginary Light – A major one person retrospective in the
Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1
26th February – 25th March 2001
Nave – one person show at Dilston Grove
22nd November – December 18th 2005
Returning Light – one person retrospective of installations and objects (1978 - 2007) in
5 Galleries, Viaduct Theatre and new spaces
Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax, Yorkshire
12th May – 2nd September 2007.
(Twice chosen by the Guardian newspaper for their Exhibitions “Pick of the Week”.)
Whitechapel Open – London 1998
Oh Pas La – Lieu d'Art Contemporain, Narbonne, France. 1999
Dark as Light – Newlyn Gallery, Cornwall. 1999
Zero-G – Dilston Grove. 2000
Unsere Nachbarn: England - Kunstlerhaus Metternich, Koblenz, Germany. June 10th – July 2nd 2006.
Mapping – Bury Art Gallery, Lancashire
21st April – 14th July 2007
Analogue and Digital – Fieldgate Gallery, Whitechapel, London 23rd November – 14th December 2007
Unearthed – (Olympic Park exhibition space) September 2011.
Making Space – (Slade research Space) February 2012
the geographical self (The Art Pavilion - London) June-July 2012