Shannon Johnson’s textured surfaces and atmospheric content counters the slickly retouched, homogeneous graphics of mainstream media, stimulating lasting and impactful responses. Living and practicing in Sydney’s Inner West, Shannon has recently exhibited in New York.
Informed by the stimuli of the city streets, from graffiti and billboards to peeling paint and hewn, art deco tiled veneers; Shannon’s work brings together contrasting textures, tones and material elements. Integrating found objects and collage, it is not unusual to find high cost gold leaf and fine calibre resins beside reworked detritus, from torn linoleum and frayed posters to the radically unconventional; once even featuring a porcelain doll’s leg.
Shannon works in a comprehensive range of styles and draws on a wealth of inspiration, from the environment around her, experiences and childhood memories to artists she counts among her influences: Warhol, Basquiat, Rauschenberg and Villeglé. Philological elements, for instance, also feature heavily in her oeuvre. Stemming from a love of language, Shannon habitually embraces words and phrases that do not necessarily translate into English. Sometimes these words serve as points of departure, at other times the text is incorporated in the work more literally. “I like to use text as shapes and compositional devices but I also like the words to be open enough not direct a meaning, but hint at an atmosphere or a vibe”.
Shannon describes her art making process as immersive. She often begins a work by thoroughly researching her subject, collecting materials, establishing colour combinations in her studio and embracing the serendipitous elements that emerge. This translates into very considered, conceptually layered works, which are both visually arresting and meaningful.