Today the Populate! tenth-birthday sneak-preview cam takes us to 200 Gertrude Street in Melbourne and the studio of New Zealand-born and now Melbourne-based Jess Johnson, well known as a force behind the maverick outfit Hell Gallery and now, as you can see, thoroughly busy making art of her own.
Though the old mythology of the artist in his studio (and it usually was his studio, not hers) has undergone an often-deserved dismantling in the past couple of decades, I still find views of artists' studios utterly absorbing to look at. The artful squalor of Francis Bacon's studio set the bohemian standard of course, giving thousands of angsty young men high-cultural permission not to clean up after themselves.
Jess Johnson's studio is of the opposite kind: ordered rather than abandoned. But it's no less rich in personality, in a sense of the maker's mind. Get close to Jess's pictures and there is in fact no shortage of chaos or imaginative turbulence, it's just that it's brought in line, measured and marshalled, by eye-boggling fields of pattern.
The works above are among eleven that'll go on show in Christchurch on 10 May at 209 Tuam Street, in her show called Wurm Whorl Narthex. There's a twelfth drawing, no less intricate, which Jess will unfold all over the walls of the exhibition space itself... The sneak-preview cam will bring reports.