Press Release

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Butt Johnson: Quaint Abstractions
January 7 – February 21, 2016

Opening reception:
Thursday January 7, 6-8pm

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Butt Johnson’s second show at CRG gallery features a new series of drawings, in which parallel lines accumulate and act as instruments for developing a language of abstraction. Originating from Johnson’s use of engraving techniques to define image and ornament, these amassings of lines have evolved as an investigative process, evoking mark, composition, color, and form.  Methodical approaches using Ballpoint and Gelly roll pens, Crayola Crayon, and Exacto knife incisions constitute a spectrum of the optical in these drawings. Some are extremely colorful and easily legible, while others serve as quieter, almost invisible interventions into grounds. The works draw the viewer into the experience of looking and point to the passage of time.  Each drawing takes anywhere from one to seven months to complete, and can be seen as a kind of condensed temporality; the accretion of
moments reflected in the thousands lines on the surfaces of the works.

This kind of unfolding, slow cadence relates to the title of the show, which is predicated on the quaint, and looks to the razor’s edge between value and relevance in contemporary abstraction. The idea of “quaintness” refers to both work that is skillful, pleasing, worthwhile, and clever—and yet still self-contained as a novelty within the current socio-political landscape fraught with social displacement, random acts of violence, and impending geologic change.

The turn of phrase also gestures towards the titles of the individual works, which are all derived from experiments or heuristics in the field of behavioral psychology. Each refers to known cognitive biases that influence our subjective experience of the world. Titles such as “The Curse of Knowledge”, “Regression Towards the Mean,” and “The Hedge Against Uncertainty” suggest a framing point for the drawings as mediated experience, filtered through both the biology of our attention and our intellectual and economic value systems. This perceptual pliability can also be said to apply to the name of the artist, a mutable symbol full of vulnerability and potentially dubious import.

A catalogue of the show will be available with an essay by Andrianna Campbell.

 

image: Butt Johnson, The Binding Problem, ballpoint on paper, 2015 (detail)

Selected Work

The Invisible Gorilla Test, 2012
Pencil and incisions on 2 ply Bristol
26 1/2 x 21 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (67.3 x 54.6 x 3.8 cm) BJ9382

The Curse of Knowledge, 2012-2013 Crayola cayon and incisions on Dieu Donne paper
42 1/2 x 32 1/2 x 2 in. (108 x 82.5 x 5.1 cm) BJ8589

The Sunk-Cost Fallacy, 2012 Ballpoint ink on 3 ply Bristol
33 x 23 x 2 in. (83.8 x 58.4 x 5.1 cm) BJ9379

The Law of the Instrument, 2012 Ballpoint ink and ink on 2 ply Bristrol
26 3/4 x 21 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (68 x 55.2 x 3.8 cm) BJ8994

The Waterfall Effect, 2011 Ballpoint ink on 2 ply bristol
19 1/2 x 16 5/8 in. (49.5 x 42.2 cm) BJ8993

Study for Regression Towards the Mean, 2013 Ballpoint ink on metallic foil paper
13 1/2 x 11 1/4 x 1 1/2 in. (34.3 x 28.6 x 3.8 cm) BJ8998

The Base Rate Fallacy, 2014 Ballpoint ink on metallic foil paper
43 3/4 x 35 3/4 x 2 in. (111.1 x 90.8 x 5.1 cm) BJ9086

The Change Blindness Effect, 2015 Ballpoint ink on 3 ply Bristol
13 1/2 x 12 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (34.3 x 31.8 x 3.8 cm) BJ9372

The Clustering Illusion, 2013 Ballpoint ink on 3 ply Bristol
20 1/2 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (52.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm) BJ8996

The Computer Red Cross Experiment, 2013 Ballpoint ink on 3 ply Bristol
16 1/4 x 10 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (41.3 x 27.3 x 3.8 cm) BJ9373

The Effects of Expertise, 2014 Ballpoint ink on 3 ply Bristol
13 1/2 x 16 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (34.3 x 42.5 x 3.8 cm) BJ9374

The Binding Problem, 2015 Ballpoint ink on 3 ply Bristol
27 1/4 x 34 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (69.2 x 87.6 x 3.8 cm) BJ9349

The Enumeration of Favorable Circumstances, 2015
Ballpoint ink on metallic foil paper
30 x 25 x 2 in. (76.2 x 63.5 x 5.1 cm) BJ9380

The Mere Exposure Effect, 2015
Gelly Roll ink on black Strathmore paper 11 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (29.2 x 36.8 x 3.8 cm) BJ9377

The Hedge Against Uncertainty, 2015 Gelly Roll ink on black Strathmore paper 31 1/2 x 33 x 2 in. (80 x 83.8 x 5.1 cm) BJ9383

The Default Network Theory, 2015
Incised acrylic, cherry wood
34 1/2 x 30 x 3 in. (87.6 x 76.2 x 7.6 cm)
BJ9403

The Hard-Easy Effect, 2015
Incised acrylic, cherry wood
13 1/4 x 12 x 2 in. (33.7 x 30.5 x 5.1 cm)
BJ9404

Installation Shots

Participating Artists:

Butt Johnson