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Considering Liquid
Richard Johnson

"Actually, what I'm trying to do is to paint paint in a way that's more controlled than if I threw the paint." The liquid quality of Johnson's splats is more of a visual stunt than classic trompe l'oeil. And that's just how he wants it. He said his stylized splats are intended to be pop-art-oriented, a bit like Roy Lichtenstein's comic book brush strokes. Johnson meticulously layers each splat seven or eight times in lighter and lighter hues, until each shape is outlined in steps of color like a topographic map. The stepped outlines produce a sort of visual surface tension, inflating the splatters and droplets until they shimmer like spilled mercury on glass -- as Johnson describes the effect.

Johnson, a University of New Orleans painting professor, said the technique just came to him one day in 2006 as he contemplated a large, unfinished, spinach-colored painting, coated with the crumpled paper and wrinkled cloth textures that he had perfected over the years. "Suddenly, I started painting these splatters, " he said. "It's kind of a surprise, too. I wanted to do something off the wall, something people haven't seen. I decided I'd push the envelope and see where it went." Johnson enlarged the shimmering red-orange blob in the center of the green painting again and again until it gobbled up almost the entire canvas like a tangerine-colored amoeba.

Though the first splatter painting isn't included in the exhibit, you can see the painting and watch Johnson describe the technique in the video that accompanies this story at www.nola.com/entertainment. Johnson titled the debut of his new paintings "Considering Liquid, " and he acknowledges that considering liquid has been a New Orleans preoccupation since the flooding after Hurricane Katrina. But he doesn't intend the paintings to be topical.

Street Liquid
24.25 x 24.25 inches
Framed: 25.5 x 25.5 inches
Blue Green
49 x 46 inches


Cole Pratt Gallery
3800 Magazine St.
(504) 891-6789


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