Jess Johnson’s Parallel Realm Finds Home in a Book

Tauranga-born visual artist Jess Johnson has drawn inspiration from some lesser-known belief systems like UFO religion Raëlism, to create an art book for the National Gallery of Victoria’s inaugural art book fair.

“[The] movement was started by an ex racing car driver in France in the 1970s and [it has] a belief system based around human cloning and aliens,” Johnson said. “I’m also influenced by film director Alejandro Jodorowsky and ​science fiction author Russell Hoban.”

“I don’t how to talk about the parallel realm [depicted in the paintings] at length very much,” said the former owner of Melbourne’s Hell Gallery, which she ran with Jordan Marani out of her home (the pair were invited to recreate the space at London’s Tate Modern in 2010).

“I don’t know if it’s something that exists only inside my mind or in some other multiverse out there. As time goes on, it does become clearer in my head. Just like in fiction, the repetition of figures gives more gravity to them.”

A recent essay by New Zealand writer Tessa Laird provided the perfect text to accompany Johnson’s book.

Johnson is one of five artists who have had art books commissioned.

Her work will find many new faces next year when she has a solo exhibition at the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery.

Johnson also recently won a coveted Australia Council residency in New York.

“I’m going to feed my brain for three months and see as much art as I can. It’s very important to me, being face to face with art. It comes from growing up in a small town in New Zealand where there were no art galleries. I could only experience the art world through books.”

Original article by Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, The Age, April 30, 2015.

Photo by Angela Wylie.


Tags: Age (The)  Alejandro Jodorowsky  Australia Council residency  Hell Gallery  Jess Johnson  Jordan Marani  Raëlism  Russell Hoban  Talbot Rice Gallery  Tessa Laird  

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