April Zanne Johnson Statement
My recent paintings are a visual representation of a portal into the possibilities that lie beyond our present visual technology. Throughout my life, I have had a deep interest in biology and the human form. My earlier paintings focused on the human form and the effect of the psychological condition on the physical being. As my work evolved, I began thinking about the internal workings of the human body, therefore my focus changed from the external human form into a created interpretation of the autonomous worlds on the interior of the body.
I found a connection with the body’s own microcosms and the greater forms in the universe. I noticed that life forms as well as inanimate forms and patterns repeat themselves on all scales and sizes. The forms of a natural landscape resemble the topographical quailities of the epidermis. I therefore began to meld fictitious and factual microbiological imagery with pattern and form. Although my research is based in science, these forms do not exist in the real, scientifically verifiable world, but rather enjoy living in an imaginative world of infinite possibility. My forms are not hindered by concrete thought. All rules are destined change. Grounds shift. Foreground and background may alternate or become liquid.
I believe we, being humans, are quite limited visually. Since childhood I have been inspired by the simple act of lying in the grass and looking at the tiny world that exists within it, only to wish I could see more detail. My recent paintings are born from an idea of infinite worlds, unaffected by gravitational law, and possibilities of existence far beyond our powerful technological tools used to see the microscopic world. The possibility exists that our world is no more than a nanoscopic element contained in a microtubule, floating in the cytoplasm of a megalithic organism. What technology could ever exist, to see such a megalithic form in whole, if it did actually exist? I enjoy fantasizing about these ideas, and my new work is developing rapidly from these thoughts.
The most important element in the most recent work is the spontaneous actions of the materials I am working with. The tools I utilize to create the images are important as they allow my hand to guide the form naturally, allowing and promoting the materials to flow into one another. The tools that I use to create the forms possess characteristics that encourage certain or specific shapes or outcomes. As an artist, I attempt to make every effort to develop the visual language that the materials I have implemented are communicating. Aesthetically, I am interested in color and the effect of light on color. Often our perception of color from light cannot be completely controlled while viewing the work. As a result, some of the works have been made on clear surfaces to allow for more light to enter and surround the work itself. This method of working on a smooth surface allows to greater fluidity when necessary. I will work on opaque surfaces when a more topographic texture is desired. Compositionally, the work can alternate. I find comfort working between dense horror vacuii as well as slightly less unoccupied space. The color palette I choose influences the composition greatly as well as the choice of tools and mixtures of materials.
My personal background has been a collection of experiences that has shaped me as an artist. Currently, I live in and keep a studio in rural Andover, New Jersey where my large studio workspace is surrounded by seventy-five acres of woodlands. This environment feeds my practice quite well as I am ensconced by the processes, effects and forms of nature. I find that the isolation assists with my ability to focus solely on my creative development. New York City is only a forty-five minute drive from my studio as well.
I received a B.F.A. from Parsons School of Design/The New School for Social Research in 1993. I doubled majored in illustration and psychology, in hopes of supporting my young family. The illustration industry converted entirely to computer technology in 1994 and traditional art was no longer a necessary part of the field. Ironically, I never worked in the illustration field. I chose to continue painting and found other means to support my family. This is a decision I have never regretted as it allowed me to focus and continue to develop my own artistic interests. I find my interest, as well as friends in various scientific fields, tends to inform my work informally.