Helen Johnson: Ends

Helen Johnson: Ends

Helen Johnson, Bad debt, 2016 (detail). Acrylic on canvas, 149 5/8 × 126 in (380 × 320 cm). Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery, London; Château Shatto, Los Angeles; Sutton Gallery, Melbourne. Copyright the artist. Photo: Mark Blower

An exhibition of work by MADA Lecturer Dr Helen Johnson. For over a decade, Johnson has used painting as a tool to investigate issues around the legacy of colonialism, the construction of national identity, personal history, and contemporary politics in her native Australia.

Johnson’s densely layered canvases incorporate historical imagery ranging from political cartoons, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century painting, architectural diagrams and maps, fragments of bodies, and handwritten text rendered with a variety of painterly gestures. Often double-sided and scaled to the human body, Johnson’s works are arranged in carefully composed installations, positioning the viewer at the intersection of a broad range of cultural and historical influences. Although driven by a deep and rigorous process of historical research, her paintings adopt a playful and even humorous take on historical memory and ingrained social conventions. “Helen Johnson: Ends” is the artist’s first exhibition in an American institution. For her presentation in the museum’s lobby gallery, she will produce a new series that extends her broader thematic concerns, while maintaining her experimental approach to the material and the communicative possibilities of painting as a critical medium.

“Helen Johnson: Ends” is curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator.