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Greg Johns: Acknowledging the Land
by Ken Scarlett


For many artists, their most recent work is the most important; past production fades in significance. Not so with Greg Johns. In spite of basic changes in style over the course of his career, he is quite prepared to return to and develop earlier concepts. Thus his progress as a sculptor cannot be graphed as a neat straight line, not even as a meandering zigzag; instead, it resembles an ascending spiral, always moving forward, while still allowing glimpses back to previous periods. It has been a complex journey—from intellectually based abstraction to the current symbolic and figurative work, from urban structures to sculpture in the landscape.

The early geometric abstractions use the language of 20th-century Modernism and would be celebrated as highly successful works in any part of the Western world. They are more than successful compositions, however; frequently they involve visual conundrums that astonishingly change character as one moves around them. To spectators’ surprise and delight, circles miraculously become squares or stars transform into cubes—Johns is endlessly fascinated by concepts of paradox and duality.

Horizon Figure, 1998.
Cor-ten steel, 350 x 500 x 90 cm.


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