Gormleys Fine Art are pleased to announce “Combustion”, a solo show by Stephen Johnston which will run from September 19th to October 3rd 2020 in Belfast.
Building on the huge success of his previous exhibition, “Elements of War” which was shown in Gormleys Fine Art in November 2019, Johnston’s new body of work further explores the topic of rising tension and opposing ideologies in today’s society.
The evolution of the work has resulted in a very focused and pointed examination of friction portrayed through a visual representation titled “Combustion”. This intimate body of work features a set of 7 new paintings based on the idea of metaphorical petrol bombs, juxtaposed with various bottles of hot sauce.
Johnston’s works, in their commentary on society, are particularly pertinent in today’s culture. The vibrant and provocative paintings certainly strike a chord with their audience, bringing to mind the current climate of escalating tensions across the globe. For Johnston, however, the story behind these pieces is a personal one. While it may resonate with present global affairs, “Combustion” was inspired, as its predecessor “Elements of War” was, by Johnston’s own experience from his childhood in Northern Ireland.
“Growing up in Northern Ireland,” Johnston explains “From a young age you’re presented with the idea of “us” and “them”. There’s always a tension, a constant friction..... when I observe the current rising tensions in the west I notice a similar undercurrent. There’s a familiar sense that underneath the label groups, a universal human trait of anger, fear and distrust exists."
The paintings themselves are a delight in bold and vibrant colour, incredibly detailed and impeccable in their execution and uniformity, with the seven pieces retaining a strong coherence as a set, while each making an impact as a stand-alone piece. Though serious in subject matter and intention, the images still manage to retain an element of playfulness.
Each piece is a clever variation the last, combining different brands of hot sauce with a number of different incendiary devices : a match, a lighter…
The exhibition “Combustion” will feature 7 new works by Stephen Johnston and will be available to view at Gormleys Fine Art Belfast from September 19th to October 3rd 2020.