Jess Johnson (b. 1979 in Tauranga, New Zealand) lives and works in New York City. Johnson’s optical, graphical explorations envision a dystopian space. The fastidiously rendered complex drawings merge 1980’s video games with a very sophisticated spatial awareness. Johnson is particularly intrigued by the notion of “world-building.” Her colorful works are like hypnotic rock posters with their flattened perspective and inviting fantasy world of astral planes. In this mind-twitching alternative virtual reality, the artist aims to show “architectural monu- ments’ of some alien civilization and are populated with contorted humanoid figures and bat-faced aliens.” We are taught to think that reality is fixed, but Johnson approaches it as a multidimensional and ever-changing. Her works explore the bounds of technology and multiple futures, and through her nonthreatening virtual reality, we have a connecting force through which we can dissolve boundaries.
Her work has been exhibited throughout Australia, New Zealand and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include Tauranga Art Museum, Tauranga, New Zealand, Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia. Later this fall she will have a solo exhibition at Heide Museum of Contemporary Art, Melbourne.
Over the past few years, Johnson has received the Arts Development Grant from the City of Yarra, the National Works on Paper Award from the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and The John McCaughey Memorial Prize for her commission for the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The artist has received many international residencies and fellowships, including the Sci-Fi and the Human Condition Residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, NE and the Australian Council, Greene Street Studio Residency in New York. The artists’s work is in public collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Monash University Museum of Art in Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Christchurch Art Gallery in New Zealand and the James Wallace Arts Trust in New Zealand.