Stephen Johnston

"The quirky manner in which Johnston pulls and twists narratives, highlighted by the realistic nature of his work, sheds light on the camouflaged absurdities hiding in plain sight. Johnston invites the viewer to dig through the layers of mundane normality with the shovel of imagination to unearth new perspectives." - Saatchi Art (2023)
Award winning artist Stephen Johnston was born in County Down in 1987, and graduated from the University of Ulster with a first class honours in Fine and Applied Art. Johnston’s work explores the relationship between our humanity, changing culture, and the link between them.

Johnston places realistic figures and ordinary objects in unusual contexts, giving new meanings to familiar things while challenging the observers perceptions of reality. His quirky and thought-provoking work is closely related to surrealism and is inspired by Belgian artists René Magritte and Michaël Borremans; along with photo-realist artist like Denis Peterson.

Since graduating, Johnston’s work has been selected for display at the Saatchi Gallery in London, RHA in Dublin, and the RUA in Belfast. He has won a number of awards including the Diageo Emerging Artist Award in 2010, the Towry Award at the National Open Art Competition in 2012, The DeVeres Award at the RHA in 2012 and the KPMG best emerging artist at the RUA in 2016. 

Johnston has gained a reputation as one of Ireland’s most promising young artists and his work can be found in many corporate and private collections throughout the world including Ireland, UK, France, US, Asia, and Australia.

He previously stated: “My work has been particularly inspired by the classic and modern surrealists and from observation of everyday life and objects, such as films, nature, books and stories. I aim to engage the viewer with drama, intrigue and humour”.