In this untitled painting, vibrant blocks of colour are thinly applied with no sign of brushwork – a feature of the minimal style of Colour Field painting to which Michael Johnson belonged. Johnson’s minimalist painting style earned him a place in The Field, a highly influential exhibition of Australian art held in the newly re-opened National Gallery of Victoria in 1968.
One of the recurring themes in the development of the Art Collection at UTS and earlier, the NSW Institute of Technology (NSWIT), has been to address the vast expanse of concrete in the foyer and other public spaces inside the Brutalist UTS Tower building. Johnson’s painting became a part of the permanent UTS Art collection in the 1990s, joining several other important paintings from the same period. It can be viewed in the mezzanine area on Level 4 of the UTS Tower building, facing the building’s Western entrance.
Michael Johnson was born in Sydney in 1938. In 1960, following the completion of his studies in Sydney at the Julian Ashton Art School and the National Art School, Johnson travelled to London where he painted full-time as well as working as studio assistant for British sculptors Brian Wall and Anthony Caro. On his return to Sydney in 1967, Johnson had his first solo exhibitions at Gallery A and was included in the seminal exhibition The Field at the National Gallery of Victoria in the following year. Between 1969-1975 he was based in New York.
Michael Johnson has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, and included in the UNESCOBiennale, France (1968); the São Paulo Bienal, Brazil (1969); and The Australian Biennale, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (1988). Among Johnson’s awards and commissions are the Wynne Prize (2014), and large commissioned paintings for the Sydney Conference Centre (1989), Angel Place, Sydney (2000) and the State Bank of New South Wales, Sydney. He is represented in all major Australian state and regional collections, New Zealand’s Chartwell Collection, and in numerous significant corporate and private collections in Australia and overseas. Beagle Press published a substantial monograph on Michael Johnson’s work in 2004.