There is still chance to get along to Matt Johnson’s second solo show at Alison Jacques Gallery before it closes 21 December. Working with recycled old-growth redwood, million-year-old granite and bronze, Johnson deals with the theme of time. His intriguing collection of art excavates the new while utilising pieces of the past.
Slightly restless in nature, Johnson’s sculptures build a conversation between the past and the present. This is particularly evident in the way he references canonical classical sculpture and sculpts traditional materials into a contemporary shape. In the main gallery space the artist has created a 16-foot long, almost 10-foot tall model of an Apatosaurus dinosaur in sections of salvaged old-growth Californian redwood, a material that actually coexisted with dinosaurs.
In the second room the Johnson’s battered old yellow bicycle is absorbed into a rock, creating an amalgamation of metal and ancient Arizona granite. Elsewhere, granite appears in the form of a 16-inch carved nose that appears to be the missing piece of a historic and large figure. The artist sculpted the nose from a granite stone leaving the backside raw and uncarved, implying this feature was broken off.
A sense of vulnerability and fragility finds its way into sculptures Johnson has apparently created from crumpled balls of paper that could have been sourced from any waste-paper bin. Rather than being casual three-dimensional doodles, these pieces carry a specific composition, one is distinctly modernist and the other is a simple arch. In an ironic twist, Johnson’s “paper” is in fact meticulously rendered from painted brass.
This exhibition at Alison Jacques Gallery brings together a collection of Johnson’s outstanding works that play with the traditions and shapes of sculpture in a contemporary context.
Matt Johnson, until 21 December, Alison Jacques Gallery, 16-18 Berners Street, London W1T 3LN.
1. Matt Johnson, Stone with Bicycle, 2013, Granite, Raleigh bicycle, 127 x 76.2 x 134.6 cm, 50 x 30 x 53 ins.