Gregory Johnston

by Sunday, April 6, 2014

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The term superleggera, “super light” in English, is an automobile coachwork construction technology patented in 1936 by the Italian firm, Carrozzeria Touring. Incorporated into chassis manufactured by Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo, the Superleggera system employed a unique structural framework that enabled light- weight fabrication and superior design.

 

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My adaptation of superleggera concepts for this body of work was borne out of adoration for cars and Abstract painting. These works combine the aesthetics of finely cut aluminum with mirror finishes of automotive enamel, arranged into “super light” wall mounted panels. The floating fields of color evoke a Zen-like quality through their pure abstraction and compositional symmetry, while at the same time they reference the exhilaration of Grand Prix races of the mid-twentieth century. The panels also embody a tension between handmade and industrial processes—sharp edges are hand-filed, surfaces are hand-sanded and polished and yet the end result resembles machine-made perfection.

 

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Above all, my work is steeped in Color Field and Geometric Abstract formalist traditions, inspired by such masters as Palermo, Judd, McGlaughlin, and Reinhardt. There is a contemporary familiarity with this art, which is modified into a riff on formalist ideals. Judd wrote, “For one hundred years the most powerful aspect of space has been color. The one hundred years of the primacy of color is still only a beginning.”

 

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As much as this work revolves around formal aspects of color arrangement, these pictures are vivid and reflective. They embody the properties of mirrors, reflecting every nuance and passerby, every onlooker. This subtle irony makes the work quintessentially twenty-first century—provocative, narcissistic and seductive.

In essence, I wish for them to serve as an homage to an obsolete, yet sublime moment in twentieth-century painting.

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