Born in 1957 in Toronto, Ontario, Mark Johnson moved with his family to Brantford, Ontario at the age of 11. Always a deep reader, as well as showing a strong interest in the visual arts, Mark would bike around and about this small southwestern Ontario city in search of the perfect place to bring a book, or go exploring the countryside and the Grand River watershed that runs through it.
Accepting an entrance scholarship to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at York University in Toronto, Mark spent 2 years there before taking a year to go travelling across Canada. He started a family in Brantford and spent the next 25 years concentrating on his family and his work in the print industry. Ongoing college and gallery studio courses supplemented his Graphic Art professional training.
When his children became more independent Mark knew it was time to express his artistic talents. He began to exhibit in local juried art shows. A change in his family circumstance brought Mark to Toronto, starting afresh with a new partner and family. He is now focused on a more dedicated pursuit of his vision. Mark continues to explore the contours and roots of his environment using his unique eye and sense of wonder and whimsy.
I feel that cycles – beginnings, growth and relationships in the world – are important to both discover and share. I am constantly wondering where things came from, what is within them and what they will become. As a child, I would hug a tree and try to see right inside of the trunk – eyes closed, visualizing the roots and sensing the flex and sway in the wind. My art reflects this abiding curiosity, which I can pursue and share with others by drawing out connections seen with the mind’s eye.
My everyday world is filtered through eyes which are marked by a condition known as Anisometropia – where one eye is nearsighted and the other farsighted. This physical trait allows me to see images which are out of conscious awareness for most people. These images drive my curiosity to understand what I see, where things begin and end. I try to capture these images using imagination and surreal landscapes in my art.
I try to express personality and emotion in the relationships between my subjects, using subtle lines and fine details. Wonder, alongside witnessing and whimsy, are core values in my work. I remain that fascinated child. Sometimes, I just have fun.