“It was then that something clicked and I have not looked back since…painting is my life.”
Steve Johnston was born in Glasgow in 1956.
After graduating from Carlisle College of Art where he studied painting and photography, Steve began working as a photographer for Vogue in 1977 and published his first book of punk photography in 1978. In 1980, he moved to the newly launched i-D Magazine where he worked with Terry Jones as the original photographer of the 'Straight-Up' genre.
In 1991, after many successful years as a photographer, his inspiration for the medium waned and he returned to painting - the medium he originally embraced and studied at Carlisle. “It was then that something clicked and I have not looked back since…painting is my life.”
Steve's artistic approach has evolved naturally, with each new method originating from "what has gone before". His multi-layered compositions incorporate several painting techniques within each piece. The graffiti featured in his works pays homage to well-known street-artists and their signature imagery.
Steve attempts to take the viewer somewhere with a sense of the familiar, rather than somewhere specific. "The aim is to portray an essence and emotion rather than a well-defined and precise person or locations." With the same reasoning, he does not depict figures to be anyone in particular.
Steve has had his work published in many books and magazines and is represented in the permanent collection of the Arts Council of England. He has exhibited widely including at Tate Britain, The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Hayward Gallery London, Victoria & Albert Museum, Scope Art Miami Beach and various i-D Magazine touring exhibitions worldwide.
"I am always drawn to figures that create a great shape. Details such as ‘how’ someone is standing or ‘what’ they are doing come into play afterwards. It is the graphic shape of the ‘body mass’ that inspires the first ideas. Certain images can unlock powerful emotions which are separate from what the actual content the picture could create if focused on in more detail."
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