From Stella Rosa McDonald…
Is it possible that aliens exist and know the secret history of life on Earth? Can they help us understand the future? After having his own encounter with alien life in 1974, former French racecar driver Claude Vorilhon answered yes to these questions and established the UFO religion Raëlianism. Believing that aliens created humans, the Raëlian movement supports “sensual meditation” and genetically modified food and has rallied for sex positive feminism, including the rights of women to go topless. Through codified symbols and ceremonies, Raëlian’s have manifested the beliefs of one man into a hierarchical religion. Jess Johnson’s complex drawings and installations are inspired by this marginal belief system and by those who, in the face of their own mortality, create alternative worlds.
Johnson’s tessellated drawings of impossible realms recall the works of M.C Escher, with whom she shares a fascination with order and symmetry. Endless Future Terror Forever, features a new suite of drawings in which fleshy, naked bodies are drawn in repeated mosaic patterns. In Sleepers, a man in a position of genuflect is repeated across the page so that his kneeling body—impossibly—fits into itself. As Above So Below makes manifest the hermetic maxim, and the complex collage with ink and gouache appears like a screen in an esoteric computer game. Johnson’s idiosyncratic figures, with their shorn heads and hyper-flexible limbs, populate the margins of the drawing while a single figure stands in naked reverence at the center of the scene. Though she takes influence from film, marginal religions, cults and video game environments, Johnson’s images are indefatigably her own. The artist uses language playfully and it is often incorporated as scaffolding in her divine architecture. Stepped wooden frames around the larger drawings in the exhibition continue her habit of constructing environments in tandem with her illustrations, and in Endless Future Terror Forever they create a sense of logical connection between her celestial, symbolic and highly personal explorations of faith and devotion.
Until August 22
Darren Knight Gallery, Waterloo
Pic: Jess Johnson, Endless Future Terror Forever, 2015, pen, fibre tipped markers, metallic paint and gouache on paper, 151 x 105 cm (paper size), 171 x 125 x 5.5 cm (framed). Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney.