“Utilizing sophisticated exposure techniques…Johnson has been touring the world’s nature reserves to produce these critical images and many others like them. The images prove just how serious he is.” - Ingeborg Ruthe, Berliner Zeitung
Santa Monica, CA - The William Turner Gallery is pleased to present the fourth solo exhibition of Los Angeles-based, multi-disciplinary artist Jay Mark Johnson. Ten spectacular large format images of waterfalls and geysers are selected from the most recent photographic artworks in the artist’s two-decades-long production of paradigm-shifting timeline imagery.
The artworks presented in ÍSLENSKIR FOSSAR were produced in Iceland in October of 2021 towards the end of global travel restrictions. Traversing the stark volcanic landscape, Johnson focused on the atmospheric turbulence of rushing waters and freezing air emanating from the region’s waterfalls and geysers, capturing the dramatic interplay of the spectacular geological events within the seasonal low-raking “golden hour” light. In the Icelandic language, the word “foss” means waterfall—with roots in the Nordic word for “force”. In his exploration of the possibilities for timeline photography, Johnson has repeatedly turned his attentions to marveling at the forces of nature, specifically the reciprocal physical interactions of light, water and atmosphere found in costal waves and inland waterfalls.
Johnson has always been fascinated at how the transmorphisms of his slit scan photographs—because they are both recognizable and strange—challenge the viewer’s expectations, forcing recognition of both the truthfulness and validity of alternative perspectives. Over the years he has worked to exploit both the refraction and diffraction of light waves as they encounter objects out in the environment and within the camera itself. Working close to the billowing plumes of waterfalls he plays with the naturally occurring displays of banded light waves visible in rainbow-like color patterns. He “paints” with the incoming color spectrum emanating from the outer reaches of the waterfalls, from the water as it crashes against rocks, and from the space between the falls and the shear rock face behind. Recorded within his inventive temporal delineations, the resulting artworks are as startling and unimaginable as they are eye-popping and poetic.
Each image in the exhibition bears distinct site specific features. For SELJALANDSFOSS #3, Johnson carried his camera equipment into a giant cavern behind a monolithic, 200 foot high cascade. Turning to look back outward, he captured an ephemeral curtain—a delicate and translucent waterwall—through which one magically views a wide horizontal stretch of the distant azure sky. In SKÓGAFOSS, a rainbow materializes through the viscous spray at the heel of the cataract while the volcanic substrate immediately behind the falls is refracted into muted color striations. In GEYSER #1, an abrupt eruption of a massive thermogenic jet sprays its sulphured-green waters skyward and then, vanishing quickly, dissipates into the low-hanging overcast fog. Two of the images in the show were produced at Stewart Falls in Sundance, Utah while another was recorded on the Big Island in Hawaii.
Opening reception: Saturday, April 8th, 5–8pm
April 8, 2023 – May 27, 2023
Held by prestigious private institutions and public collections throughout the U.S. and Europe, Johnson’s work has been exhibited and collected by the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution, Art Institute of Chicago, Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Langen Foundation and Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe.
Johnson was born in 1955 in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA. Since 1996 Johnson has resided intermittently in Paris, Antwerp, Rome and rural Italy. He currently lives and works in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles where he also writes and sculpts.
William Turner Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave. E1, Santa Monica, CA 90404
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