Jim Johnson’s Art through the Lens of Jean Arp

When looking at the paintings, woodcuts and sculpture of Jean Arp (1886-1966) one is struck by an almost familial resemblance that links even his most monumental torsos with his most delicate flowing plant-forms.  Art historian Carola Giedion-Welcker wrote that “Arp is less interested in the fixed individual case than in the animated play of relationships, the sounds and echoes within that dynamic order in which everything fluctuates and is eternally subject to change and transformation.” In Arp’s woodcuts, such as Le Nouvel age de l’art,  there is still a figurative quality to the organic floral/microbiological forms as they flow across the paper.  The gentle undulation also features sudden turns and branches that create an impression of movement that evokes a very human dynamic.
        

Atlanta artist Jim Johnson’s works, which largely consist of acrylics and conte crayon on paper, printed media, plexiglass and wood panel, invite the viewer to peer through literal and contextual layers to unlock the full range of movement within.  While often featuring a more gestural kinetic line action and interplay of color when compared to the works of Arp, Johnson’s pieces still also display an articulation of form and clever constraint  of negative space reminiscent of Arp’s paintings and sculptures.  While this is readily apparent in Johnson’s homages, such as Windows 1 and 2 and Jumper 1 through 4,  other pieces by the artist that are not contained within negative space, such as BGG # 38 and #39 also contain wonderfully characterized forms that curl, slash and bound inside their respective areas of the composition.  While Johnson’s set Windows 1 and 2 is an actual homage to Jean Arp, the legacy of the plastic articulation and organic growth process inherent in Arp’s vision finds root in many more of Jim Johnson’s creations.

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