Sarah Anne Johnson’s fifth gallery exhibition entitled Wonderlust addresses the psychology and physicality of intimacy in individuals and couples. Turning from the cold, vast landscapes of her previous series Arctic Wonderland to the warm, private spaces of strangers’ bedrooms, Johnson intends these photographs to “explore the internal world of sexual intimacy. 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 extends her photo-based practice to incorporate burning, scratching, gouging and glitter, to make visible the elation, beauty and self-consciousness of sex. She has photographed her subjects in their homes and worked with the resulting prints in her studio.
Johnson’s work has always embodied dualities between the real and the imagined or felt. Her skill at creating beautifully seen images in the world collide with the use of alternately aggressive or subtle interventions made in the studio. The interplay between the authenticity of the couples seen in their domestic surroundings and
her interjected responses are sometimes raw, tender or ecstatic. These additions convey the wide range of physical and emotional experiences of sex. Whether escapist or tantric, ridiculous, aggressive or lonely, each piece exposes a deeply personal moment. Johnson explores, critiques and celebrates lovemaking and sexuality as a whole. As an onlooker, we feel the tension between voyeurism, bashfulness and sentimentality. A catalogue is being produced to accompany the exhibition.
In characteristic form, Johnson has conceived of this as a self contained project, as in Tree Planting, first shown here in 2005, The Galapagos Project, House on Fire and most recently Arctic Wonderland. 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.