Review: Ben Johnson Modern Perspectives @ National Gallery

By M@ Last edited 98 months ago
Review: Ben Johnson Modern Perspectives @ National Gallery

Numerically, there's not much to see. Visually, there's more detail and craft than in many other rooms of the National gallery.

Just three paintings comprise Ben Johnson's Modern Perspectives exhibition, but each one would have taken a single artist several years to complete. Hyper-detailed representations of Zurich, Liverpool and London capture those cities with incredible resolution. Better than reality. There are no humans. This is the city, pure and true, beneath a clear blue sky.

Each piece is assembled from an overlay of many stencils, hewn from architectural drawings by skilled craftspeople. Although the preparation is a team effort, all paint is mixed and applied by Johnson himself.

The London panel - a view of Trafalgar Square from the gallery roof - is incomplete. The finishing touches will be added by Johnson et al. over the coming weeks and in full view of visitors. The geometry of this remarkable painting borrows heavily from The Stonemason's Yard, on display in the Gallery's ongoing exhibition of the works of Canaletto and his rivals. From the evidence on show in Room 1, the Venetian master has a new rival.

Ben Johnson: Modern Perspectives runs at the National Gallery until 23 January. Entrance is free.

Last Updated 13 December 2010