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In collaboration with the sea: Matthew Graeme Johnson at Jerico Contemporary

With a deep appreciation of the natural world, and camera in hand, Matthew Graeme Johnson arrives at Continuum. In continuing of his first series in 2016, Johnson further explores his relationship with the ocean, creating artworks to expand our realities. The series completes his debut solo exhibition, opening tonight at Jerico Contemporary. Throughout the series, an intuition towards unexpected feelings and long-exposure photography allows him to challenge our perception, with photographs that seem abstract, and almost calligraphic. With us, he reflects on the power of his craft, and the way that moments of beauty emerge from spontaneous movement in time. “You can’t distinguish where my movements end and the ocean’s begin,” he says. Here, stories of his inner and outer self emerge, and we are invited into his vivid dance of a sunlit sea.

Tell us about how you create your works. How did you develop your current practice?
Through observation of the sea and an ongoing exploration of the inseparable relationship between man and nature and the part we play. The works evolved from a desire to make natures unseen images visible through the photographic medium. Similar to the Abstract Expressionists, my practice places importance on the process, relying on the gestures and movements made as I capture the sun's reflections on the sea.

The sea and sun play a big role in this series – what inspired this connection?
Growing up on the coast, surfing and photographing the water allowed me the opportunity to contemplate how varying weather can affect the light’s movement on the ocean. Exploring the relationships between sun and sea through photography feels like a natural extension of my fascination with the ocean.

“Despite my attempts to achieve a certain result, the result ultimately gives way to chance."

Continuum No2, 2019.
Unseen realities, 2019.
Continuum No9, 2019.

“The elements – sun, sea and artist all exist on a continuum.”

What does the ocean mean to you?
Quite simply, it's home.

Tell us about your camera. How does it enable your art?
It is only with a camera these images can be extracted from beneath the surface of our visual reality. It is not possible to see these natural works as they happen with the eye alone. Photography enables these naturally invisible works to become visible.

When did you start taking photographs on the regular – and what drew you to the medium?
It's in the family. My father and two brothers work in visually creative fields and growing up with access to cameras and an appreciation of cinema, art and design led me to pick up a stills camera in early high school. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Do you remember the first photograph you took?
The first photograph I remember taking was a black and white image of some tall, old growth trees with a borrowed point-and-shoot film camera. I was on an art camp in year 11, we were visiting an artist’s retreat on a property somewhere near the Blue Mountains. It was my initial introduction to the idea that art could be a means of survival.

What is your dream as an artist going forward?
To continue to communicate, through visual representation, the connection between humans and nature and to seek out natures unseen realities. To create immersive works on a much larger scale.

What do you want people to notice, in experiencing your works?
The similarities in human made markings and those which nature creates. The consideration that there is no separation between where nature ends and man begins, we are one and the same. Perhaps a reminder to look after ourselves, each other and this planet we inhabit.


Matthew Graeme Johnson: Continuum is on view at Jerico Contemporary from October 24 - November 16.