Friday, February 12, 2016

Butt Johnson

I love drawing, and get really excited when I encounter someone who has a similar enthusiasm for it. I went to see Butt Johnson's extraordinary show, Quaint Abstractions, at CRG Gallery recently, which is up until February 21st. The drawings in the show eluded my understanding of the form, so I immediately sought out a visit with him. After spending the day in his studio, I started to get the sense that these color concentrated abstractions are more like a subversive version of the space-time continuum than the usual pen and paper hypothesis. He is making his own conclusions about drawing and dimensionality, and taking us on that journey with him.

Some of the steps in Johnson's process, like the erratic swirl of a line, take seconds to make, while other steps, like the repeated start-and-stop of a ball point pen, take months. This is where space and time get sublimely confusing. The closer you get, physically, to the drawings, digesting their various bold (and often trippy) color patterns, the further you are from understanding how they came to be. The bright flurry of jelly roll and ball point pen marks that cluster on the outskirts of some pieces are a stimulating place for the eye to wonder and let loose. But I am always happy to get back to the meat of the work and imagine it from every angle of its conception. 

By the end of the day, we put down our pencils and pens and assessed our progress and the amount of cramping in our hands. It was pretty meta to draw a drawing while it was being drawn. You can also see his work in Drawing, up now at Kerry Schuss through March 6th, and We Are Not Things, at Invisible Imports until the 14th of February. To see more of Johnson's drawings go here

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