A Piece of the Cloud: Duncan Johnson’s Micro-Units

West Branch Gallery
Nov 18, 2014 11:17PM

While art is often personal, it is rarely personalized. We can’t rearrange colors, mix and match patterns, nor select only our favorite features of a singular work to take home and hang on our wall. The novelty of applying one’s own creative skill to another’s work of art–personalizing it, so to speak–is an added element of engagement experienced when viewing Duncan Johnson’s installation, Cloud.

Cloud is a collection of micro-units that range in size from 2.25” x 2.5” to 10” x 10.5”. These small-scale works can stand on their own but are designed to float with one another. Working with the existing color, texture, and wear of wooden strips found in barns, dumps, and transfer stations, there is an understanding of color and aesthetics on display. It is with great discipline that Johnson meticulously lays these fragments next to each other; however, it is up to the discretion of the viewer which lines and patterns he or she will pluck from the wall and rearrange to create a more personalized piece.

The same precision and composition found in Johnson’s larger works, on public display in Burlington and soon New York City, carry over to Cloud. Johnson’s piece Color Code (48” x 60”) is the focal point of the Hotel Vermont lobby in Burlington and, recently, the artist received a commission to construct a 30 panel installation at Toll Brothers City Living’s new building at 160 East 22nd Street in New York City. While Johnson’s signature-style solid panels keep your attention within the main frame of the work, with Cloud, your eye puddle jumps from one unit to the next to the next. You may visually remain in one corner of the Cloud (fixated on a nail impression, a wood knot, the mark left by a removed door hinge) or canvass the entire wall, following shades of blue.

West Branch Gallery