IN EXHIBITION | Photographic landscapes of sexual intimacy raise “Wonderlust’s” temperature

Sarah Anne Johnson's "Kissing Gold" (2013) chromogenic print with gold leaf 16 x 20

Sarah Anne Johnson’s “Kissing Gold” (2013) chromogenic print with gold leaf 16 x 20

NEW YORK CITY |  The Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson is by temperament a landscape photographer. After completing her MFA at Yale in 2004 with a thesis project entitled Tree Planting, she embarked on a series of installations that record the communal activity of reforesting, “tableaux” scenes she created with little sculptural figures set in the landscape. She also captures cold vast landscapes of what she called, in another show, an Arctic Wonderland.

In her new show, Wonderlust, now on view at Julie Saul Gallery in New York, Johnson enters a private landscape: the bedroom. But she can’t help transforming the sex behavior and physical intimacy of couples and individuals into heated, orgiastic landscapes.

Inside the interior spaces of strangers’ bedrooms, Johnson takes photographs that, she says, “explore the internal world of sexual intimacy.” She adds, “To show what it looks and feels like. Some of these images represent my desires for romance, ecstasy and emotional connection, while others depict boredom, self doubt and personal disappointment.”

Johnson’s work pushes the boundaries of photography by incorporating burning, scratching, gouging and glitter into her practice. These effects, she believes, “make visible the elation, beauty and self-consciousness of sex.” She photographed her subjects in their homes and then worked with the resulting prints in her studio, as can be seen here:

Sarah Anne Johnson's "Scratches" (2013) incised and ripped chromogenic print 29 x 20 inches

Sarah Anne Johnson’s “Scratches” (2013) incised and ripped chromogenic print 29 x 20 inches

Johnson’s works feel quite theatrical. As can be seen in these photographs, she alters the real and pushes the imagery into the realm of the imagined or felt. Some of her interventions are subtle; others aggressive. Her photographs are authentic, because these are real couples in domestic surroundings, but she also interjects her own aesthetic responses. Whether escapist or tantric, ridiculous or lonely, each piece frames the theatricality of a deeply personal moment. Often she mixes voyeurism, bashfulness, sentimentality and outright lust.

Johnson received her MFA from Yale University and a BFA from University of Manitoba. Her work is featured in numerous public collections including the Guggenheim Museum, NY, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, each of which has extensive holdings of her work. She was prominently featured in the Oh, Canada show at Mass MOCA which is now traveling throughout Canada and is the featured artist in the upcoming Toronto Art Fair. She has recently received commissions from Louis Vuitton, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Bank of Montreal.

See Johnson’s slideshow portfolio here.

Sarah Anne Johnson's "Splatter Paint" (2013) chromogenic print with oil paint  30 x 44

Sarah Anne Johnson’s “Splatter Paint” (2013) chromogenic print with oil paint 30 x 44

Address: 535 W 22nd St, 6 Fl., New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212 627-2410 Fax: 212 627-2411

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