Claire Johnson’s first solo exhibition, Changing Hands, will be hosted by SMITH studio from 28 June until 30 July 2016. This show comes after her participation in a number of group shows at the gallery, and will feature acrylic paintings, linocuts, and fabric works in linen, cotton and leather.

Johnson is a member of the creative collective and design agency Hoick, and shares stylistic similarities with stable mates Dale Lawrence, Franco Fernandes, and former member Ben Johnson, all of whom collaborated on 2015’s popular group show On Second Thoughts at SMITH.


Her work is unmistakable and her approach involves the flattening of three-dimensional items into less discernible two-dimensional forms. These shapes are then arranged into abstract compositions with the colour chosen quickly and intuitively.

An object is always the subject of Johnson’s work.  This object is stripped of context because the viewer completes the meaning of the work, as they are a less passive observer of the process.

Johnson explains, “An object without context cannot speak for itself, so the viewer’s subjective perception is the only real experience regardless of my intentions. If the viewer were to know what the object was, the illusion would be broken and the process exposed. Withe the power of imagination thus hindered, the baggage of the work’s context would prevent the viewer from having ownership over its meaning“.


The journey her work makes is of great importance to Johnson, as the chosen object evolves from a physical item into a flattened shape and finally into a composition hung on a wall.

In stark contrast to the viewer’s appraisal of the final piece, the systematic journey of the  object is meticulous and methodical.

“This is the delicate balance – making sure there are degrees of separation in place to ask the viewer to complete the story themselves, uninfluenced by its context,” says Johnson.

SMITH Studio

SMITH is open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm, and Saturday, 10am-1pm

56 Church Street, Cape Town




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