“The death of my parents, combined with other events in my personal life lead, predictably enough, to a greater sense of mortality and renewed urgency where work was concerned. These convulsions were accompanied by wider social and political traumas which were spreading a growing feeling of uncertainty and helplessness in society as a whole.
I began to feel that, after many years of patient work, I might try to paint and draw in a more immediate manner, and that my private experiences might elide in a productive, more or less instinctive way, with those currents of anxiety, absurdity and tragedy in society. Where in the past I might have planned every aspect of a work, I now felt that the very vulnerability of my more spontaneous approach could be a good foil to the seriousness of my subject matter. I love the English tradition of scabrous commentary through satire and cartoons.
Another ingredient of my approach which may be of interest is that of self-doubt. Many artists are subject to whacks of this of course. I think that I resolved that at 50 it was time to give it a blast; paint freely, boldly and copiously but also, instead of doubt holding me back, that very sense of frailty could become an asset, which might, if I was lucky, feed through and inform my painting, perhaps reflecting on various levels a sense of personal and communal unease."
Michael Johnson lives and works in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, UK. Recent exhibitions include The Marmite Prize for Painting, Columbia Threadneedle Prize, Ruskin Prize, Lynn Painter Stainers Prize Exhibition, Discerning Eye Exhibition, Derwent Prize Exhibition and the London Group Open.