• [Tate Britain]
Tate Britain
New British Art 2000
Tate Britain , London, England, 2000.
Curated by Virginia Button and Charles Esche
On Alan Johnston's Wall Drawing
Charles Esche
Alan Johnston's work is, at times, almost invisible - but almost is not invisible at all. At a time when our lives are saturated by commodified images, looking at a simple drawing that relies so much on what we, as viewers bring to it, becomes a test not just of our perception but of our whole system of value. What we see how we see it and even whether we register it all are consciously determined a mirror of our private self in a way and a measure of our understanding of order, space and structure. It is the economical way in which this act of self – awareness is achieved that make Johnston's work so extraordinary and effective.
Interview with Alan Johnston during the installation of Intelligence
Atopia Projects
Extract :
What are the origins of your work, how did it come about?

One of the important aspects of the genesis of my work was that at one point I was trying in a sense to make it disappear. I had become fascinated with making it appear old, damaged, hidden. When I was at the RCA, I went through this business of obliterating what I was painting and leaving the obliteration - I suddenly realized that this was sentimental. Literally overnight I took out everything that I thought was irrelevant. I just dropped the banality of measurement. I made a decision that what I should do, in the path of the work, was to work with just the touch and visuality together.
The method in actual fact came from practice, from a kind of trance-like activity a long time ago in the life room. Maybe you should have a look at my life drawings some time, it’s very difficult in actual fact to pinpoint feature - drawing the figure without the figure, a kind of totem for time elapsed and "poetic reverie" (sic), absent-mindedness, involvement. I made these things with a tiny mark; the mark is the constant factor.
London 2000
London 2000 London 2000