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First solo exhibition in Europe of New-York based artist Jess Johnson on view at Talbot Rice Gallery
Jess Johnson, We Dream Of Networks, 2016. Pen, fibre tipped markers and gouache on paper, 76 x 56 cm.

EDINBURGH.- The University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery is presenting Eclectrc Panoptic, the first solo exhibition in Europe of New-York based artist Jess Johnson. Part of TRG3, Talbot Rice’s programme of projects showcasing the work of emerging artists, Johnson transforms Gallery 3 with tessellating patterns, a suite of drawings and virtual reality to create an immersive installation, inviting the viewer to enter her surreal and speculative worlds.

Jess Johnson creates highly detailed drawings of alternative realms that reveal her fascination with the intersections between language, popular culture, technology and science fiction. She builds complex worlds that combine densely layered patterns, bizarre figures and evocative texts within imagined architectural spaces. The specific genesis of Eclectrc Panoptic is the psychomagic group rituals conceived by the visionary filmmaker and comic book writer Alejandro Jodorowsky; and the technological themes of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune.

Embedded within this environment is the virtual reality animation Ixian Gate 2015. Created in collaboration with artist Simon Ward, it turns Johnson’s drawings into an immersive three-dimensional world, enabling the viewer to have the simulated experience of entering their hypnotic realms. Through an Oculus Rift headset, as the visual elements begin to mirror those in the drawings, the distinction between the virtual and the real melts away leaving the viewer to contemplate the uncertainty between reality and perception, or simply submit and succumb to the not-knowing.

My reality is different to your reality. We’re taught to think of reality as a fixed and absolute thing; like concrete or bedrock. I think of it as flowing lava, moving under the surface of time. Reality can be different speeds and densities. It can be multidimensional. It can be harnessed and brought into existence by words and symbols. The human brain can conceive of something that did not exist before and then go out and make it. You can make something out of nothing and alter the universe around you. By anyone’s definition that’s magic. Jess Johnson.

Jess Johnson was born in Tauranga, New Zealand in 1979. In 2016 she relocated permanently to New York after ten years of living and working in Melbourne, Australia.

Johnson’s work has been exhibited throughout Australia, New Zealand and Internationally where she has participated in solo and group exhibitions at; Jack Hanley Gallery, New York; Art Basel, Hong Kong; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; and Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand.

Johnson is represented by Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, Australia; and Ivan Anthony, Auckland, New Zealand.

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