“There Are No Rules”
The Paintings of Dennis Johnson
More often than not, we tend to think of abstract art as being non-objective. We disassociate it from the real world if it is not immediately representative of that which we can distinguish, that which is readily explainable. We tend to view it more emotionally.
Color implies a state of mind; why did the artist use so many dark colors?!! It looks as if he were hitting the canvas!! Consequently we often feel distracted by abstract art. If we have to work too hard to understand it, then it goes against the rule.
However, there does exist the potential for an artist to ‘deconstruct’ that which he sees in front of him; to take all of the information available to the eye and reorder it, replace it, and make of it something else. The artist may view a subject from many different angles, yet imagine all views at the same time exiting on one plane. For the creative artist, seeing becomes a process of recovery and to his/her way of understanding, there are no rules.
This is the premise that one must use to get inside the work of Dennis Johnson. To define Johnson’s painting as chaotic would be wrong, yet they are deceptively spontaneous. This in part, because they exist in the realm of the senses; viewed from a distance they appear as planes of color, yet viewed up close they are textural. There is a tendency for the viewer to touch them and if one does, then we find that yes, there is a depth as well. If you listen hard enough, can you hear a resonance? Possibly, or is that the color interacting in such a way as to create a sensation of sound? Is it a buzz or a low hum? Jazz or white noise?
One thing is certain, Dennis Johnson’s work revels in the joy of painting. It has the ability to transform materials into something other than what we perceive to be. The blending of brushstrokes; fat and thin, soft and hard, the obscuring of the canvas here, the absolute tactile impression it leaves there, would almost hint at collage, yet this is paint on canvas - not torn bits of cloth painted over printed pictures, found objects or written words. This is painting that doesn’t have to relate to anything, that doesn’t have to follow rules. It simply invites us to think, to reflect, to open our mind to the possibility that all any art has to do is make us feel. And Dennis Johnson’s art does that ... and more.