The current show at the Robbin Gallery, “Art from Two Centuries,” is a solo exhibit of oils, graphite and photography by Leigh Douglas Johnson, an artist who wears many different hats. Johnson studied fine arts at the University of Minnesota, and over the years has done painting, sculpture, woodworking, architecture, stained glass and picture framing.
The current show consists primarily of several series of paintings and photographs that combine shape, color and line to produce abstract landscapes with a strong sense of movement. As Johnson notes on his website, “I find that this territory between naturalism and full abstraction to be the most rewarding to explore.”
The shoreline series of oils demonstrates Johnson’s interest in the patterns, rhythms and color relationships found in nature. But nature is just the starting point for Johnson’s own imaginative excursion into abstract forms and color. Large, flat serpentine shapes in pinks, blues and ochres fill these canvasses. As Johnson notes, “the flowing line or form is the most interesting, essential element in nature as in my art.” In the shoreline series, the harmonious colors and undulating forms have a relaxing, almost meditative effect.
The photographic series titled “Through a Glass Darkly” are pictures of vines that Johnson shot through dirty industrial windows. These photos are filled with interesting space, depth and shapes. Vines drift in and out of focus, overlapped by streaks of sunlight and shadow forms. Again, the line between realism and abstraction is blurred.
There are also some graphite and pastel works in the show. In “Snow Covered Hills,” Johnson superimposes layers of cut paper shapes, producing a beautiful sense of depth and subtle shading.
Johnson’s solo exhibit will run through September 29. To see more of Johnson’s work, visit his website.
Robbin Gallery is a cooperative gallery housed in an historic library building in Robbinsdale, MN. For more information about the exhibition or the gallery, contact the Robin Gallery.