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.

Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Terminus at The National Gallery of Australia, Whol Why Wurld at the Auckland Art Gallery, Everything not saved will be lost at Jack Hanley Gallery, Eclectrc Panoptic at Talbot Rice Gallery at The University of Edinburgh, Wurm Haus at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and Mnemonic Pulse at the TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre in New Zealand. Recent group exhibitions include Future Nature at Jack Hanley Gallery in New York, Hiding in Plain Sight: A Selection of Works from the Buxton Collection at the Bendigo Art Gallery in Australia, Believe Not Every Spirit, But Try The Spirits, curated by Lars Bang Larsen & Marco Pasi at the Monash University Museum of Art in Melbourne, and Don’t Hide The Hate at the Slopes Gallery in Melbourne. The artist has also participated in Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and Future Primitive at the Heidi Museum of Modern Art in 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.


Interview with Jess Johnson and Simon Ward on Terminus, Vice, 2018

Jess Johnson Selects: Platform Games and Obstinate Monsters, Garage Magazine, 2017

Review of Everything not saved will be lost in Blouin Artinfo, 2017

Article about Jess Johnson's Work in Versions, 2017

Interview with Jess Johnson in Huffington Post, 2016

Creator's Project Article on Jess Johnson's work, 2015