Alan Johnston: Drawing a Shadow

18th February 2010 – 2nd May 2010
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Alan Johnston’s drawings both reflect and subtly reconfigure the architectural spaces they inhabit. Drawing A Shadow: No Object, his largest UK exhibition to date, will see him literally drawing all over the walls of the Henry Moore Institute, elaborating ideas he has developed over the course of 2009.

Johnston’s drawings give new perspectives to familiar spaces; thus the striking architecture of the Institute’s top-lit galleries – Victorian wool merchants’ offices which were converted by Dixon Jones in 1993 – comes into focus.Whilst not being obviously three-dimensional, the drawings highlight the galleries as sculptural spaces in their own right. Alongside and framed within the large wall drawings, the exhibition includes a series of smaller abstract pencil drawings on plaster, lino, and wood prepared with titanium and zinc white.

Johnston is an Edinburgh-based artist who has exhibited widely in Europe, the USA and Japan. His large-scale, delicate drawings are made of short, irregular pencil marks which converge to delineate impressions of geometric spaces, reminiscent of windows or mirrors. At the same time, the pencil marks have a textural quality in that they are scratched into the surface of the walls.Johnston is interested in the ways in which spatial depth is experienced and marked out, and mindful of the fact that this depends as much upon our perception of the voids between objects as our perception of objects themselves.

Johnston has undertaken drawing projects in a diverse range of locations.These include Haus Wittgenstein, Vienna; Colnagi Haus, Riehen, Basel; The Pier Art Centre, Stromness; AIAV, Akiyoshidai, Shimada, Yamaguchi and Tokyo; The Whitney Museum, NYC; Tate, London; Inverleith House Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and Safn, Reykjavik.

Curator and writer Charles Esche sums up the effect Johnston’s drawings have upon the viewer:
‘Alan Johnston’s work is, at times, almost invisible – but almost is not invisible at all.’