Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 November 2007

Michael Johnson

born 1938

oil on linen

244.0 x 213.5 cm

signed, dated and inscribed with title verso: Michael Johnson 1998 LICORICE NIGHT
signed, dated and inscribed with title on stretcher verso:“LICORICE NIGHT” Michael Johnson 1998

$40,000 - $60,000
Sold for $45,600 (inc. BP) in Auction 3 - 29 November 2007, Melbourne

Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne (label attached verso)
Sherman Galleries, Sydney (label attached verso)
Private collection, New South Wales


Pearce, B., Michael Johnson, Beagle Press, Sydney, 2004, p.200, pl.66 (illus.)

Catalogue text

The following are excerpts from the 'Foreword' by Edmund Capon, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales to Pearce, B., Michael Johnson, The Beagle Press, Sydney, 2004, p.15

Irresistible, impulsive and absolutely demanding of our attention. As Michael Johnson himself has said, his paintings are not to be viewed, or at least not to be viewed and considered in the interpretative way, but to be explored and even assaulted. In that sense his paintings are, quite simply, not so much a visual experience but one that equates more with his experience of music and drama. If we submit to his demonstrative invitations and take the plunge we are gradually consumed by the rich embrace of his paintings. The quality of the experience, both emotional and physical, is absolute in the making of his pictures and our response to them.

Michael Johnson's work is indisputably abstract and yet the line and the mark, both processes of definition, are fundamental. His work of the last two decades particularly has been characterised by powerful moods of texture and colour articulated by lines. Beneath those threading, sometimes rambling, sometimes emphatic lines of unrestrained untainted colour, moves a convulsive world heaving with layers of paint that are rich with experience and resonant with emotion. They are, as they live and breathe, a culmination.

...We are always tempted to rationalise the experience of experience, but in the case of Johnson's paintings the drawing of parallels, such as that of the lotus - the eternal symbol of beauty - emerging from the mire, seems an unnecessary diversion. As he has said: 'motivation and subject aren't the same' and his painting is about momentum and motivation: 'whatever you paint, whatever you write, it's not in the starting point, it's in the building of what it becomes.'

Michael Johnson is one of the most powerful visual poets of contemporary Australian art, and the intensity of his purpose is as unrelenting as it is full of the intensity of experience...