Brendan Carroll reviews two concurrent shows of works by painter Medford Johnston: Notes of Africa at Sandler Hudson Gallery, Atlanta (through April 19) and Counterpoise at the High Museum of Art (through June 8).
Carroll writes that Johnston uses "shaped lines and irregular geometric forms nestled together in a fashion that suggests intimacy. The objects are abstract figurations. The palette shows thoughtful sensitivity born from specific reference. Warm brownish reds, unnamable grays, butter mixed with cream, and yellowish greens the color of dry vegetation… these paintings were made in the late 1980s and early 1990s and were informed by the artist’s visits to East Africa. It makes total sense: the colors, forms, and manner in which the paint is applied can be related back to tribal textiles, arid climate, and traditional African adornments. However, as with most great painting, specific references are only the subtext. The main concern is making a great painting. The goal is to separate and distinguish oneself within a lineage dating back thousands of years and contribute a new way to articulate one’s humanity through painting."