Selected by Jamie Anderson

BEN JOHNSON, Berlin Pool, 2020


Berlin Pool, by Ben Johnson, forms part of our current online exhibition of contemporary art created by artists who have exhibited primarily in our London gallery. Johnson is a leading British figurative painter who is best known for his paintings based on architectural spaces and large-scale cityscape paintings, including his view of London which was completed as part of a residency at the National Gallery, London, in 2010. Although the painting illustrated was completed in 2020, the genesis came from trips the artist made to the city some years ago. The composition, where the viewer is placed inside a building looking out beyond water to nature through the windows, feels apt in the current climate.


The artist explains of his painting: “For me it is a painting about focus and one-pointedness.  These are often words that occur in texts on meditation.  It is a painting that continues my preoccupation with what is real and what is an illusion.  


During lockdown I learnt to enjoy the freedom of walking in nature and was privileged enough to have a studio that looks onto a garden. In this painting one is held within an austere interior but both the man-made and nature are reflected within the pool.  


This seemingly perfect surface presents an illusion but below the surface of the water are the lines that all lead to one point, which is to the energy-giving properties of nature.


It is an invitation to transcend the material and enter the ethereal and, whilst I am saying that the water offers the experience of illusion, the whole painting is of course an illusion.  It is using geometry, colour and light in the hope that, even in troubled times, one can find peace and tranquillity.


Ben Johnson's work work is included in the permanent collections of museums, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Regional Services Museum, Hong Kong; and the Government Art Collection.


BEN JOHNSON (British b. 1946)

Berlin Pool, 2020

Signed, titled & dated on reverse
Acrylic on canvas
39 3/8 x 59 in / 100 x 150 cm
March 8, 2021