Tim Johnson traces connections between the artistic and spiritual practices of various countries and cultures in his work. He explores how symbols and motifs belonging to differing traditions, places and times can be combined visually as well as conceptually, resulting in richly imaginative multi-layered paintings.
'Horses' exemplifies this practice. It incorporates ideas about the first Gulf war, which Johnson saw as an embodiment of the apocalyptic scenarios recorded in the Book of Revelations. Its title relates to the depiction of a horse just below the centre of the painting and references the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In contrast to Western notions of the 'end time', images of Buddha and cartouches borrowed from Dun Huang cave murals in China are integrated into the painting.
The painting also relates to the artist's experience of the Western Desert in the 1980s, where seeing a wild herd of horses running in the desert landscape made a vivid impression on him. Demonstrating the strong influence of Western Desert art on Johnson's work, 'Horses' incorporates repeated roundel forms, referencing the concentric circles and multiple sites of Papunya painting.
synthetic polymer paint on linen
152.4 x 182.9 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Rudy Komon Memorial Fund 2013
Not on display
© Tim Johnson
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Antipodean currents: ten contemporary artists from Australia:
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, United States of America 21 Jun 1995–06 Aug 1995
- The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D.C. 09 Oct 1995–16 Oct 1995
Tim Johnson: Painting ideas:
Referenced in 2 publications
Roger Benjamin, Antipodean currents: ten contemporary artists from Australia, '"Jointly and severally": the Johnson way of art', pg. 58-69, New York, circa 1995, 64, 65 (colour illus.).
Wayne Tunnicliffe and Julie Ewington, Tim Johnson: painting ideas, South Brisbane, 2009, 140 (colour illus.), 159.