Art - Mark Johnston

Vast, grey, overcast British skies. A familiar part of our landscape and a sight which, to most English people, triggers off a miserable state of mind. These scenes inspire a completely different set of emotions for artist Mark Johnston, currently exhibiting at the new HQ Gallery. Following in the Romantic tradition of Turner and other great landscape artists, his paintings show a passion for the gloomy and sublime qualities of the British climate. With loose brush strokes and a palette knife piled up with oil paint he applies layer after layer of paint onto canvas, scratches it away and glazes the finished work. The result is a series of highly textured and emotive landscapes and seascapes. The glazing gives the paintings an old Dutch Master quality, but the overall effect is semi-abstract and contemporary. Standing in front of the works you get that ‘speck on the horizon’ feeling. They are a slow burn. It would be good to own one as you could spend hours staring at it. The longer you look the more you see in the painting – like looking at a fire.

They are pricey (£500-£4,600) and I am not surprised considering the amount of oil paint applied. But Mark has an established reputation and I am sure they are worth it. The ones to go for are ‘Shine’ in the lower gallery, which is pale grey and white with dramatic flashes of light; and the more Autumn-coloured series in the upstairs gallery. Sufferers of SAD syndrome should certainly bring along their credit cards. JW

Mark Johnston: a Turneresque passion for the English weather
HQ Gallery, Lewes
When? 10.30-5pm Tues-Sat, runs till June 17th
How Much? Free

HQ Gallery
(t) 01273 470548
(w) Website