Claire Johnson

Claire Johnson (b.1986, South Africa) has taken part in numerous group shows at SMITH Studio. Johnson completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Art at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2010 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Brand Communication at the AAA School of Advertising. 'Changing Hands' is her debut solo exhibition at SMITH Studio.

Johnson’s work consists of compositions of ostensibly abstract forms, produced by a process that is underpinned by investigation into the relation- ships that form between humans and objects.Each work is a representation of an object, personal or found, that is subjected to a formulaic treatment that involves the flattening of the three-dimensional items into unpredictable two-dimensional shapes. From there, her process becomes loose. Shapes are intuitively arranged into compositions and colour is chosen instinctively.

Johnson sees objects as passive, reflecting meaning that is placed on them within a context. Removed from that context, an object can no longer speak for itself. In a new space, new eyes embellish it with new meaning, bringing with them their own forms of understanding and their own agendas, and overwriting any history or significance it may previously have held.Once an artwork has left the artist’s hands, it is the viewer’s experience that is the only thing that is real. The artist’s intentions are trivial if they are not echoed by the present moment. Indeed, knowledge of the artist’s intent may distract from that moment. If the viewer were be told what the object was, the illusion would be broken and the process exposed. The viewer’s imagination is hindered, and they are no longer able to see beyond the artist’s intention. The baggage of history prevents the viewer from having ownership over the experience.

Through its lifespan, the featured object evolves from a part of the physical world into a flattened shape, and then into a composition hung on a wall. Its past becomes irrelevant. It is only ‘genetically’ related to the final piece; its resemblance purely physical. After a month it leaves the gallery, the curator, the artist, everything it was associated with before. The spotlight of significance moves with each change of context.
The object’s systematic evolution starkly contrasts the viewers engagement — immediate and intuitive. Johnson’s systematic process ensures enough degrees of separation to require the viewer to complete the story themselves, uninfluenced by its context, allowing access for unhindered interpretation.