Walt Johnston’s Statement about Cityscapes
These days when you enter a juried exhibition or talk to a gallery, you are frequently asked for an “Artist’s Statement.” I usually reply (with my nose in the air) that “I don’t write artists’ statements because I am a realist painter, and if a painting needs to be explained, then it has failed as a work of art.”
Still, people ask questions.
Here is my answer:
As you drive through any urban environment you catch glimpses of buildings, cars, street lights, pedestrians, windows, reflections of all sorts. A flash of light that demands your attention might be nothing but the sun striking a window—but you are driving, so you catch only a glance. It is gone. You are watching the road. You are in traffic. You collect very realistic impressions of your visual experience, but they are moving photographs, snapshots, not movies, the flash of a second. Two seconds. Then it is gone. Forgotten. This visual sensation of an instant never returns at night to be experienced again in your dreams.
In my current work I have taken that same visual experience, and explored it in detail. You have been there. You have seen it. But you have seen it as you walked by or as you drove; you have seen it as a fractured reality, dismissed as a fleeting fact of urban life. You have never seen it at all.
All I have done is paint it. Here it is isolated, presented in a simple gold frame to be hung on a white wall and you experience it as a reality to be savored. And who knows? It might return in the night to linger in your dreams!
Is this an abstracted reality of the urban environment — or is reality itself an illusion?
After all, “The ultimate abstraction is reality!”
I don’t know if this satisfies as an “Artist’s Statement.” It is simply what I have tried to do.