"Lifeline", a solo show of recent work by well-known Antigonish artist Linda Johns, opens at Lyghtesome Gallery on June 3, 2014. A prolific painter, sculptor and writer, Johns spent two years away from her studio following the death of her partner, and just began working again in the summer of 2013. “Lifeline” signals this visionary artist’s powerful return with recent whalebone carvings and acrylic paintings on paper and canvas, her 37th solo show at Lyghtesome Gallery.
With this new body of work, Linda Johns has renewed her trust in a lifelong creative calling to express her perceptions of the world on a symbolic level. As she puts it: “Living surrounded by woods, hills, wildlings and waterways has inspired me for decades to express them in visual metaphors that reflect spiritual and environmental concerns.” Johns perceives reality as being in a constant state of flux, made up of energies and processes fluctuating between movement and stillness, both in the natural world and the archetypal sphere.
There are no hard edges in nature, and Johns paints accordingly, using unmixed, layered, pure color and sometimes curved canvases to break out of the confines of defined line. The piece entitled "The Window of Illusion" features an acrylic painting on paper within by an old mullioned window. Rectangular panes cannot contain the vastness of the whole. Johns feels the hope for the world lies with a shift in our perception on many levels.
All of her life, Linda Johns has been a keen observer of nature and a delver into unseen worlds, pushing past borders into mystery. Many of the paintings in "Lifeline" were inspired by drawings of trees in the 1980's from the artist's copious notebooks which record her daily discoveries and observations. Deeply inspired by the tenacity of trees, she explores qualities of various states of being, both personal and planetary, using arborous physical forms and properties. Trees, living and dead, hold memory of both earth and sky. Their roots reach for sustaining renewal by going deep, their branches reach for clarity and light by growing towards the heavens. Eyes within their bark look out as witness to all that unfolds.
Johns likes to juxtapose contradictory reference points and merge different worlds to unsettle the viewer and spark new ways of seeing. In the painting "Sounding the Hidden Roots", a whale and a tree, are fused, beyond duality, beyond earth and water. In the whalebone sculpture entitled "Strong Wings Cannot be Hidden", a baleen whale flies with outstretched wings, a respectful tribute to wisdom beyond our understanding.
In all, “Lifeline” features eight new acrylic paintings on canvas, eight acrylics on paper, and a collection of nine recent sculptures which were completed last fall at the end of Johns’ carving season. She puts down her carving tools and begins to paint once the weather changes. The exhibit runs from June 3 to 28 and can also been seen on the web at
Lifeline will be followed by the annual Summer Showcase in July.