Artist Ben Johnson has been painting for 50+ years. He is best known for his realistic architecture paintings – large scale cityscapes and detailed architectural renderings, some of which have taken multiple years to complete.
Realistic Architecture Paintings
The artist recently had a solo exhibition of his work spanning the past fifty years* at the Southhampton City Art Gallery. His first retrospective, it presented an opportunity to see the much of his work via the 45 paintings.
The show illustrated his interests in varied types of architecture from traditional and ornate to modern and streamlined.
His early enormous cityscapes of Zurich, London, Jerusalem and Hong Kong almost look like photographed postcards.
above: Looking Back to Richmond House 2011, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 108 in / 183 x 274 cm
His 2008 Liverpool Cityscape, which covers an area of 5 square miles, took an entire team 3 years to complete. If painted by only one person, it would have taken 18.
His later work is painted in varying degrees of realism. His subjects range from modern building exteriors with lots of reflective windows to centuries old interiors with inlaid marble floors and ornate columns. Below are several examples.
Mirador de Lindaraja, 2013, Acrylic on canvas, 87 x 87 in / 220 x 220 cm
Facade of Sala de la Barca, 2015, Acrylic on canvas, 163 x 202 cm
Roman Room, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 71 x 93 in / 180 x 237 cm
Room of the Revolutionary, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 89 x 59 in / 225 x 150 cm
Far Horizons III, 2010, Acrylic on canvas, 71 x 71in / 180 x 180cm
Mythological Room, 2012, Acrylic on canvas, 71 x 47in / 180 x 120 cm
In Another Light, 2010, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 90in / 152 x 229cm
Room of the Niobids, 2011, Acrylic on canvas, 71 x 99 in / 180 x 252 cm
Echoing Screens, 2009, Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 50 in / 127 x 127 cm
Corridor of Benediction, 2000, Acrylic on linen, 55x76in / 140x193cm
Reflections on Past and Present, Paris, 1996, Acrylic on canvas, 100x80in / 254x203cm
Structural Trees, Stansted, 1990, Acrylic on canvas, 60x60in / 150x150cm
The Unattended Moment, 1993, Acrylic on canvas, 72x96in / 184x243cm
IBM North Harbour, 1984, Acrylic on canvas, 78x117in / 198x297cm
In the video below by Studio International, you can watch Ben creating the Patio de los Arrayanes at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain 2015 (the painting shown at the top of the post):
About the artist (from his website):
Ben Johnson was born in Llandudno, Wales, in 1946. He studied at the Royal College of Art and has lived and worked in London since 1965.
His first solo exhibition was at the Wickesham Gallery, New York, in 1969 immediately after graduating from the Royal College. He is best known for his paintings based on architectural spaces (some almost forensically accurate, others heavily manipulated) and his large-scale, intricately detailed cityscape paintings, which include panoramas of Hong Kong, Zürich, Jerusalem, Liverpool and, most recently, his view of London which was completed as part of a residency at the National Gallery, London, in 2010.
Over the past 46 years he has exhibited widely in galleries and museums across the world, including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; the Art Institute of Chicago; Kunsthalle Tübingen; and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. At the first Venice Architecture Biennale in 1991, Norman Foster portrayed his work solely through Johnson’s images and he included him again in his installation there in 2012. His work is part of a travelling exhibition currently touring museum venues in Europe, and the first retrospective exhibition of his paintings opened in September 2015 at the Southampton City Museum and Art Gallery. Johnson has for years been an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects for his contribution to the public’s understanding of contemporary architecture and, in 2015, was made an Honorary Fellow of Glyndwr University, Wales, for services to the public appreciation of the Arts.
He has undertaken commissions for the Royal Institute of British Architects, the British Museum and National Museums Liverpool as well as for IBM, HSBC, JP Morgan, British Steel, Hong Kong Telecommunications and many others.
His work is included in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Regional Services Museum, Hong Kong; and the Government Art Collection.
* Spirit of Place: Paintings 1969-2015 ran at the Southhampton City gallery from Fri, Sep 18, 2015 – Sat, Jan 23, 2016