Paintings by Bay Area Artist Mitchell Johnson on View at Truro Center for the Arts

Paintings by Bay Area Artist Mitchell Johnson on View at Truro Center for the Arts
Paintings by Bay Area Artist Mitchell Johnson on View at Truro Center for the Arts

Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill in Massachusetts presents an eclectic group of small paintings by California artist Mitchell Johnson from September 6 through 17. The gallery will be open daily from 12 to 5pm (ET), with an artist reception on September 7 from 4 to 6pm.

The exhibition is entitled It Takes Time and includes work from New England, France, New York, and California.

Art critic Donald Kuspit recently reviewed Johnson’s work, noting his concerns for both art history and abstraction:

Art history insidiously echoes in — ingeniously informs — all of Johnson’s works. It is what makes them conceptual as well as aesthetic masterpieces. They also have an ironic freshness — the freshness of the California beach. Even “Mott Street” (2019–2023), with its quirky geometry — a sort of patchwork quilt, “Manet’s patches” as they have been called, become eccentrically abstract. “Orange Boat” (2019–2022), abruptly contrasting with a bright blue sea, and child in white dress and rower in blue pants, the yellow in the child’s blonde hair and in the rower’s hat suggesting their closeness, is a particularly tender-minded work in Johnson’s oeuvre. Most are peculiarly tough-minded, perhaps nowhere more so than in “Ed’s Iceberg” (2019–2022), surreally looming over his yellow house, the white house between them barely keeping them apart.

Like all of Johnson’s works, a latent conflict is built into the scene, in the form of often abrupt contrasts of space and form. Strange as it may seem to say so, they are implicitly psychodramas disguised as physical drama. I am arguing that they have an emotional cutting edge, making them more than matter-of-factly descriptive and ingeniously abstract. “Monaco” (2019–2023) is not just a luxurious place with a beautiful beach on the Mediterranean, but fraught with tension, as the contradiction between the orange, green, and blue planes, along with the plane of white table they flank and overlap, makes clear.

Johnson is a master of abstraction, as his oddly constructivist paintings show, but of unconscious feeling, for his geometry serves to contain and with that control the strong feelings implicit in his strong colors. Apart from that, his paintings are art historically important, because they seamlessly fuse abstraction and realism, which Kandinsky tore apart to the detriment of both even as he recognized that they were implicitly inseparable, tied together in a Gordian knot, as they masterfully are in Johnson’s paintings.

Mitchell Johnson moved to Palo Alto, California, in 1990 shortly after finishing his MFA at Parsons School of Design in New York City. He spent the 1990s peregrinating between California, New York, and Europe as he created brushy landscapes and figure paintings. In the 2000s, repeated trips to the Danish island of Bornholm and a chance viewing of a Josef Albers/Giorgio Morandi exhibition in Bologna led to a decisive change in approach. Johnson turned towards a more consciously organized picture plane, where larger shapes are intended to serve as scaffolding for commentary on the tension between manmade and naturally occurring color.

For more information, visit and follow him on Instagram at @mitchell_johnson_artist.