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 exhibitions this year include Eclectrc Panoptic at Talbot Rice Gallery at The University of Edinburgh, Wurm Haus at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Sensorium Chamber at Ivan Anthony Gallery in New Zealand, Endless Future Terror Forever at Darren Knight Gallery in Sydney 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, Future Primitive at the Heidi Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne. In 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 was this year awarded the Sci-Fi and the Human Condition Residency, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska and last year received the Australian Council, Greene Street Studio Residency in New York. Public collections include 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 in Huffington Post, 2016

Creator's Project article on Jess Johnson's work, 2015.