Byron Johnston - Begins With Zee

 

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This catalog was created for the exhibition titled “Byron Johnston - Begins With Zee” at Headbones Drawers Gallery, Vernon, BC Canada, August 11 - September 27, 2012

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b yronjohnstonbeginwithzee

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the drawers headbones gallery contemporary drawing sculpture and works on paper byron johnston begins with zee august 11 september 27 2012 headbones gallery

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artist catalog byron johnston begins with zee copyright © 2012 headbones gallery this catalog was created for the exhibition titled byron johnston begins with zee at headbones drawers gallery vernon bc canada august 11 september 27 2012 artwork copyright © byron johnston 1999 2012 byron johnston begins with zee commentary by julie oakes copyright © 2012 julie oakes rich fog micro publishing printed in vernon 2012 layout and design richard fogarty printed on the ricoh spc 811dn all rights reserved no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical including photocopying and recording or by any information storage or retrieval system except as may be expressly permitted by the 1976 copyright act or in writing from headbones gallery requests for permission to use these images should be addressed in writing to byron johnston c/o headbones gallery www.headbonesgallery.com isbn 978-1-926605-56-2 rich fog micro publishing toronto canada

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byron johnston begins with zee commentary by julie oakes

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byron johnston begins with zee byron johnston has more in common with the mothers of invention than his california leanings he went to art school in the sunny state just as frank zappa took the definition of music to a new level and turned the ideas of what constituted music topsy-turvy so johnston turns around our idea of what makes up visual art zappa s musical creations rose above the pop song and ended up being praised by serious music critics through out the world johnston as well without forfeiting invention curiosity or plain old fun pulls up what could be termed ordinary daily materials into the realm of fine arts with such assurance that the acceptance of his unique and inventive art is impossible to contest yet above and beyond the marvel of his daring he keeps a firm hold on the object as high art the space between found object and art piece is a relatively small one this space cast doubts and aspersions when marcel duchamp as r mutt submitted his urinal piece titled fountain in 1917 fountain was rejected by the committee for the society of independent artists in paris although the yearly exhibition had promised to accept whatever had been submitted the original fountain has been lost although it was photographed at alfred steiglitz s studio and this is the documentation of it s existence fountain was however accepted by the annals of art history and lauded by peter bürger the art historian and theorist as a major landmark in 20th century art is byron johnston producing conceptual art conceptual art is defined by wikipedia as an art in which the concepts or ideas involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns concept reigns high in the evolution of johnston s work but it is certainly not devoid of aesthetic and material concerns his work is in fact built on a reaction to a material concern that also has embedded within it a conceptual basis the wall pieces titled audience music youse #2 3 are an

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headbones gallery 2012 example of this reaction the material within the frames this is a series is corrugated cardboard that has been walked upon by visitors to his exhibition at the vernon public art gallery where this same cardboard made up the floor of the installation audience music youse it has been cut into a precise rectangle and framed with a material that acts as a foil for the cardboard beautifying it the framing of the material has caused it to leap a notch up the ladder of aesthetic acceptance and it is now quite easy to accept it as a piece of art for it has components that we have traditionally associated with art work it is displayed on a wall in a gallery framed and has become a beautiful phenomenal object musical canoe illustrates a similar dynamic mounted horizontally in conjunction with the canoe s splayed exterior covering above and below it it has been presented as a vertical format in other exhibitions the canoe has been altered through the stringing of wires that suggest a musical instrument the sense of just what we have been presented with is now more

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comfortable when we associate the experience with the realm of aesthetics is canoe-ness more important to the realisation of this assemblage or is the positioning and alterations made to the canoe more endemic to its current meaning it is within the concept of canoe that the transformation of object into art takes place with some pieces it is more of a challenge to close the gap between found object and art piece for the space is too wide for an immediate acceptance the moving interactive mobile #2 could be a plaything a utilitarian cart transporting debris an invention whose purpose is dubious it also has elements that can bring to mind the grocery carts that the homeless pile high with their personals yet as nothing is accidental in johnston s work there is a meaning in this tangle of video tape the placement of the mirror is such that when the cart is pushed the driver sees an image of himself as he manipulates the sculpture forward it is much like the relationship between the tangling of the nerve centres around the hypocampus in the brain of one who suffers from alzheimer s disease and the difficulty that ensues in forming connections between self and information johnston is in essence playing a kind of game with the viewer s head if art imitates life and imitation is the highest form of flattery but if flattery gets you no where then where indeed does this art lead us to it leads to questioning but it also provokes acceptance the acceptance comes about through the juxtaposition of material events towards an aesthetic end johnston s work can also be fabricated from scratch much as the traditional sculptor forms the raw material into image faces has simple chrome irregular ovals that suggest faces with dents that become eyes the faces are mounted on strips of copper that can be read as necks when these components are clustered together they form groups or crowds the shiny chrome surfaces reflect back the faces of viewers standing in proximity to the ovals and due to the materials the faces are shining and radiant johnston has used these ovals in scaled down and orange and there is a sense of individuality that ensues the addition of the white ball in

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scaled down and the orange ball in orange is like an accessory to an outfit the small wooden carved figurative shapes in scaled down enable the appreciation of the polished wood surface beside the chrome and from certain angles these figurines are reflected in the chrome face furthermore this angle also frames the head of the viewer in another oval of looped steel painted white so that there is a figurative relationship between the piece and the viewer that is very satisfying even flattering interactivity is an inclusive gesture that plays a prominent part in zee johnston gives the visitor not only visual satisfaction and stimulation but also allows a component of activity on the viewer part it is a preordained action directed by johnston but the ultimate outcome of his invitation to partake allows for the expression of the participant the bombay bicycle horn mounted to shredded begs to be squeezed and yet how often how hard and if you even dare to for art objects traditionally are do not touch items johnston leaves it up to the viewer when it is honked attention comes swinging towards shredded like a financial wakeup call and the shredded american bills that seem to be squeezing from beneath the lid of the plexi-glass dome mounted to a burnished steel gain notice urban insights is played not only by others but also plays by itself the changes in heat cause the stretched rawhide upon the seat of the wooden chair to swell or contract so that the ball tied by a string to the back of the chair and resting on the seat bounces of its own volition it creates a spooky awareness of spirit as if an invisible presence has bounced the ball this is what has happened a change in temperature has played urban insights kull scat changes without intervention as the apples rot within the glass tube kull scat has been editioned with the option of different organics enclosed within the glass tubing johnston also plays with perception stare long enough at the first grid of twine perception a play on twin as well and the relationship between the back lines of twine and the front become a mesh further discombobulated by the screen on the window behind the piece a sensation of visual vertigo follows.

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sorter/conveyor just a wonderful visual zany walk on the wild side julie oakes 2102 implied animation takes a front seat in the outdoor sculpture sorter conveyor the rakish angles of the baby carriage seem to be walking across the antique apple conveyor belt like a clownish tight rope walker two once shiny red apples are becoming a brown mush resting on the openings they are too big to fall through to the ground which would have meant that they were of an accepted size yet there is no overt cynicism on the hopes of parenthood in

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sorter/conveyor 2005 steel mixed media apples w124 x d18 x h60

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scaled down 2012 powder-coated steel stainless steel copper wood w18 x d18 x h18.5

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orange 2012 stainless steel copper paint w34 x d28 x h19.5

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