Helen Johnson


On until 6 January 2024

You’d never guess that Helen Johnson is an art therapist as well as a painter when her subdued hanging canvases come with titles like Late mirror stageTransfence love, and Lack. Women, whole or in body parts, are thrown around these images by chaotic lines in shifting scales and perspectives. They’d like you to know that they’re thinking of serious matters (see Constituted object) but can laugh it off, too (Das Ding Dong). A series of smaller works at the back of the gallery momentarily inspires Bataille’s Story of the Eye but Johnson dispels such risqué associations with another run of prosaic captions.

This is the work of a mind that, having needlessly spent years in analysis, became hooked on ennui. Or, just as likely, of an artist who wasted her studio time misreading Lacan to the detriment of her praxis. The unescapable result are these dull, if technically proficient, paintings of boredom made for dull eyes. Their lack, in turn, is profound.

notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Ed Webb-Ingall, A Bedroom for Everyone at PEER ★☆☆☆☆

Ed Webb-Ingall

A Bedroom for Everyone


How can art improve the lives of communities? Wrong answers only.

Mohammad Ghazali, Trilogy: Then… at Ab-Anbar ★★★★☆

Mohammad Ghazali

Trilogy: Then…


Repetition and framing are photography’s greatest tricks.

Yoko Ono at Tate ★★★☆☆

Yoko Ono

Music of the Mind


This show will sell tickets. But it won’t change the weather.

Aziza Kadyri, the Uzbekistan pavilion in Venice ★★★★☆

Aziza Kadyri

Don't Miss the Cue


This dissonance might be intentional. If it isn’t, so much for the better.

Poppy Jones, Solid Objects at Herald St ★★★★☆

Poppy Jones

Solid Objects


The lightness of the painter’s gesture cries out for a sledgehammer that would relieve the viewer of his doubt.

looking to the futurepast, we are treading forward, the Bolivian pavilion in Venice ★☆☆☆☆

looking to the futurepast, we are treading forward


The contemporary is of no interest to a nation whose future is yet to be dug out from the ground.