Kysa Johnson

After Monet

I have always loved Monet’s lyrical and luscious waterlily paintings. I would spend hours as a teenager sitting in the Water Lilies room at the “old” MOMA in New York basking in the sublime beauty of its three long enveloping panels in the room that was dedicated just to it.

When I was researching the microscopic sea dwellers phytoplankton (whose fossils become the raw material for crude oil) for the series Crude which traces the natural history of oil from its chemical inception in nebulae to its modern extraction from the earth, I was struck by how their forms reminded me so much of those paintings. Simple shapes based on phytoplankton structures became the base imagery of this work and it seemed only fitting to relate the micro water creatures and the macro water lilies, so I recasted Monet’s Water Lily paintings as the compositional and chromic structures in the Crude paintings and drawings.

Not only linked by their aquatic nature and their basic forms, historically Monet’s Water Lily paintings were created at the moment when due to technological advancements in WW1 oil was about to explode in usage in a way that has defined our relationship to it over the last hundred years. As we near the transition to a new age of energy, looking back to the start of that journey seemed a fitting bookend.

Kysa Johnson, November 2020

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 370 - Crude (metamorphosis) - phytoplankton and chemical components of petroleum after Monet, 2019

ink on gloss on board

48 x 60 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 371 - Crude (metamorphosis) - phytoplankton and chemical components of petroleum after Monet, 2019

ink on gloss on panel

60 x 48 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 377 - Crude (metamorphosis) - phytoplankton and chemical components of petroleum after Monet, 2019

ink on gloss on panel

72 x 96 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 379 - Crude (life) - phytoplankton after Monet, 2019

watercolor, ink, and graphite on paint on aluminum

48 x 60 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 380 - Crude (metamorphosis) - phytoplankton and chemical components of petroleum after Monet, 2019

ink on gloss on panel

36 x 24 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 381 - Crude (metamorphosis) - phytoplankton and chemical components of petroleum after Monet, 2019

ink on gloss on panel

40 x 30 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 384 - Crude (death) - fossilized phytoplankton, 2019

Fixed chalk and Chinese white pencil on blackboard

60 x 60 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 385 - Crude (death) - fossilized phytoplankton after Monet, 2019

Fixed chalk and Chinese white pencil on blackboard

30 x 24 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 386 - Crude (metamorphosis) - phytoplankton and chemical components of petroleum after Monet, 2019

ink on gloss on panel

36 x 36 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 391 - Crude (life) - phytoplankton after Monet, 2019

watercolor, ink, and graphite on paint on aluminum

12 x 12 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 398 - Crude (death) - fossilized phytoplankton, 2019

fixed chalk and Chinese white pencil on blackboard

16 x 20 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 403 - Crude - phytoplankton after Monet, 2019

watercolor, ink, and graphite on paint on aluminum

48 x 96 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 404(a) - Crude (life) - phytoplankton after Monet, 2019

watercolor, ink, and graphite on paint on aluminum

48 x 96 inches

Kysa Johnson
Blow up 404(b) - Crude (life) - phytoplankton after Monet, 2019

watercolor, ink, and graphite on paint on aluminum

48 x 96 inches