Sagittarius - 26" x 26" - Oil on Canvas - 2014 - Michael Burris Johnson

Sagittarius – 26″ x 26″ – Oil on Canvas – 2014 – Michael Burris Johnson

The constellation paintings are views of the night sky through the eyes of order. 

The constellations of stars are an example of the way a smooth space can become striated, a vast continuity or visual chaos can become mapped, captured by order, repeatable, recognized.

The grid is representative of order, human consciousness, and selective association.

One thing I’ve found interesting in thinking about the constellations is the illusion of a flat 2-dimensional quality to their coherence when in space the stars are closer or further from earth, autonomous or members of clusters that exist on different depths and axis – they only become coherent from the vantage point of earth.

The existence of the constellations is contingent on being filtered through human consciousness from the vantage point of earth. The constellations are one of infinite combinations of stars – but once the lines are drawn and segments recorded, they are captured by narrative, by history, by knowledge. This does not prevent them from being beautiful, interesting, and captivating.

Two themes are explored in these paintings: chaos vs. order & light vs. dark

With this painting, the experiment and change I made from Pollux & Castor (Gemini) was to fade all the star colors to red – I did this because in space the Sagittarius constellation exists in a massive red nebula – now that the painting is done I realize how minimally I experimented, and how moving forward, it might be better to unhinge color, allow the canvas to become red, abandon the preconception that the night sky must be dark or black.

Sagittarius is half-man, half-horse with a bow and arrow and cape – the right side of the canvas is the bow, the center four stars the horse body, the blue star is the head, with the trailing cape going to the upper left corner, the horse legs down to the bottom left – look at the image below and compare:


About Michael Johnson

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