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DEREK JOHNSON


Derek Johnson is an established international artist of memorable depth, observation and conviction, whose work features frequently in private and permanent collections. He has lived and worked in the North West of England, but has exhibited at respected venues nationwide, and abroad, from the very start of his artistic career in the 1970’s. To name but a few: The Royal Academy; a touring exhibition to the USA; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Portland Gallery, Manchester; a recent retrospective at ‘The Gallery in Cork Street’. The impressive municipal galleries of the great Northern cities have played host to his work throughout his long career. Indeed, he is one of the few British artists to have exhibited at the internationally prestigious John Moore’s Liverpool Exhibition on three separate occasions. His prize-winning painting ‘Yellow Counterpoint’ is shown in the Gallery’s permanent collection of Twentieth Century British Painters, alongside other winning luminaries such as David Hockney, Patrick Heron and Howard Hodgkin. A refusal to be conformist or stereotyped results, as one reviewer wrote, in paintings ‘which are often controversial but never dull’. Allied to this originality, moreover, is a consummate and meticulous artistic skill noted in the following accolade: ‘Each image is worked with minute care, yet sustained life, subordinate yet of equal importance to the whole’. Gifted as a musician, as well as an artist, he has dedicated much of his creative life to discovering and creating works that reveal the underlying structures in natural phenomena: a constant examination of the interplay of rhythm, movement, space and colour. Early in his career, the art critic of ‘The Guardian ‘ noted in his work ‘the infinite sequence of patterns superimposed one upon another. As you look they dissolve, emerge, dissolve and emerge through time and space’. What another reviewer referred to as ‘The jazzy vibrato’ of one of his paintings would seem to confirm Derek’s own conviction that, for him, the two artistic spheres are twin strands of his sensibility: one where rhythm, movement, texture and structure, whether musical or visual, are expressive vehicles for emotion and thought. Throughout his adult life, Derek has played trumpet with both modern and traditional jazz bands in clubs, festivals and on radio: a semi-professional career companionate to his art and teaching. This deep love of improvisational music has provided, in his own words, ‘a thread of continuity’ reflected in the noted movements of his paintings: a strong improvisational element borne, nevertheless, out of a supreme level of technical execution and understanding. Derek has taught and inspired generations of art students throughout his career. He is an outstanding communicator, with an enthusiasm to pass on his own artistic passions and practised skills to students. As Course Director in Visual Studies at Blackpool Art School, (an affiliate of Lancaster University), responsible for the formulation of the course curriculum, philosophy and policy, he left his personal stamp on its artistic focus. A keen art theorist with a voracious appetite for researching his subject, as well as practising it, Derek’s expertise has been sought not only within college circles, but as a member and former Vice President of the Manchester Academy of Fine Art. In this role he has been responsible for in the selection and evaluation the work of fellow artists. It is no exaggeration to say that Derek’s love of art, in all its diversity, is his life’s obsession. Prolific as ever, much of his recent work is only just emerging from his studio, where he continues to work and develop the findings of his explorations. These paintings offer an opportunity to examine how his art continues to evolve and to be shaped into his personal, idiosyncratic view of the world. Kevin Green


Chieftain Oil on Canvas 213 x 197cm


Barbaric Dance Acrylic on Canvas 198 x 213 cm


Radiolaria Oil on Canvas 197 x 213 cm


Bat Variations Oil on Canvas 153 x 137 cm


Artist’s Statement On first perception my work appears to be wholly abstract. In fact, it is firmly rooted in the observation and analysis of the structural qualities of natural phenomena. There is interplay between perceived information, intuitive feeling and the formal conventions of contemporary painting. Movement seen in natural forms, such as ripples on water , foliage waving in the breeze and light flickering through leaves, inform the qualities in my work. Examination of natural forms gives rise to a variety of differing, but equally valid, visual conclusions. Through amalgamation of these structures I compose new forms, which differ from their original source, yet retain many of their essential qualities. The overlaying of these disparate structures results in ever-changing, veil- like qualities ,where dynamic spatial levels continuously seek to assert themselves .This produces multidimensional forms which are built by the superimposition of a variety of single viewpoints. I often combine the structural qualities of two or more objects, whose characteristics do not have obvious similarities, and thereby synthesise them to create new entities .This process is similar to jazz, where a basic, rhythmic chord structure is introduced and new, improvised melodies overlay the original chords running in counterpoint to them. The emotive and poetic essence of my images is expressed and amplified through colour. Overlays of coloured lines create “colour chords” , whose appearance can be achieved only in this manner. It is a method comparable, albeit not identical, to that of Georges Seurat who, influenced by Chevreul’s treatise on simultaneous contrast, placed small dots of colour next to each other to produce optical mixtures. In these ways I try to express my personal vision of the infinite manifestations of nature. Of its cohesive, yet ever-changing underlying form, an occasional glimpse may be sustained, before this passes rapidly beyond our range of vision. It is moments such as these that my art seeks to capture.


Gravid Primary Acrylic on Canvas 203 x 153 cm


Yellow Cones Oil on Canvas 183 x 153 cm


Bat Variations II Oil on Canvas 107 x 100 cm


Crystal Dance Acrylic on Canvas 122 x 122 cm


EXHIBITIONS •Grundy House Museum Blackpool 1970 •Haworth Art Gallery Accrington 1971 •Touring Exhibition Iowa State USA 1972-3 •(Percival Galleries, DesMoines Art Centre, Drake University) •Portland Gallery Manchester 1974 •Northern Images, Spinningfield Manchester 1974 •Wayfarers Gallery Southport 1974 •Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1975 •Cleveland International drawing biennale 1975 •Peterloo Gallery Manchester 1975 •“Northern Artists” Grundy Municipal Gallery 1975 •Chenil Galleries London 1976 •Liverpool Academy Exhibition 1976 •John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 10 Walker Art Gallery Prize winner 1976 •(Walker Art Gallery purchase for permanent collection) •Portland Gallery Manchester 1976 •Bede Gallery Jarrow 1977 •John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 11 Walker Art Gallery 1978 •“Painting in Northwest” Arts Council, Grosvenor Gallery Manchester 1978 •Grundy House Museum Blackpool 1980 •“North West Arts” Arts Council Manchester 1980 •John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 12 Walker Art Gallery 1980 •“Eight Artists” Fylde Arts Blackpool 1981 •The Forum St Helens Art Gallery 1997 •Bury City Art Gallery Manchester (PLC Skills, Prize Winner) 2000 •Warrington Museum and Art Gallery 2000 •Bury City Art Gallery Manchester (Caddleshaw Booth & Co Award, Prize Winner) 2001 •Manchester City Art Gallery 2003 •G-Mex Centre Art Fair Manchester 2004 •Salford Art Gallery & Museum 2004/05 •“Figure and Form” Tameside Gallery Manchester 2004 •Gallery Oldham Manchester 2005 •Stockport Art Gallery Manchester 2006 •Chapel Gallery Ormskirk Merseyside 2006 •“The Discriminating Eye” Central Art Gallery Ashton Under Lyne 2007 •Colin Jellicoe Gallery Manchester 2007 •New Mariner Gallery Wigan 2008 •Bury City Art Gallery 2009 •“The Gallery in Cork Street” London 2010 •Gallery Oldham 2011


The Moroccan Oil on Canvas 249 x 214 cm


Hay Hill Gallery 5a Cork Street Mayfair London www.hayhillgallery.com E: info@hayhillgallery.com T: +44 (0) 207 439 1001

JOHNSON  

Derek Johnson

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