Johns’ work draws inspiration from the beauty and severity of the Western landscape. Her most recent paintings focus on Kings Canyon in the Sierra Nevada mountains where she spends her summers backpacking. Johns sees a connection between the immediacy of experiencing a painting, and the immediacy of experiencing the wildness of nature through the solitude and physicality of being in it, and she seeks to interpret such experience more than to reproduce exact imagery. Her work navigates spaces of white canvas through passages of thick paint. The openness of the white spaces suggests a vastness and allows the viewer to fill in the space. She picks out areas of the landscape to highlight, sometimes focusing on an immediate object, and other times seeking to describe a panorama.
The scale of works in Kings Canyon references the physicality and monumentality of the places she depicts, perhaps inciting a memory of the sense of moving one’s body through nature. Johns also recognizes the masculine associations of the Western landscape and seeks to elicit what might be considered a more feminine sentiment. Despite their size, the white expanses in Johns’ paintings and the palate of her paints provide a sense of delicacy. A balance of restraint and abandon her process confounds horizon, perspective, gesture and color with the intent to evoke a sense of possibility.
Elisa Johns is a Los Angeles based painter who received her MFA from the Claremont Graduate University, and her BA from the University of California, San Diego. Johns has exhibited across the United States, and in Europe. Her most recent solo shows include “Wildflowers” at Walker Contemporary in Vermont, “Palisades” at Kasia Kay Gallery in Chicago, and “Huntress” at Mike Weiss Gallery in New York.