8 JUNE - 10 JULY 2016

Tim Johnson makes a welcome return to the Canberra art scene with his solo exhibition Floating Worlds. The exhibition includes recent paintings over the last two years since he featured in the Nancy Sever Gallery’s inaugural exhibition. 

Often described as ‘floating worlds,’ Tim Johnson’s extraordinarily powerful paintings embrace the spiritual iconography of a range of cultures. The paintings are metaphysical landscapes. His is an individual journey of spiritual self-discovery that has an enormous absorptive capacity but which always remains anchored in his unique vision. 

Against the background of Aboriginal dot painting Tim Johnson lays out his personal iconography, drawing on Buddhist, Tibetan and Chinese art. His painting style is influenced by these sources in both a technical and philosophical way, and by his collaboration with artists from these cultures. 

Tim Johnson has long been one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists. In 2009 the Art Gallery of NSW and the Queensland Art Gallery both presented a major survey exhibition of his work. He is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all state and regional galleries and in major corporate and private collections in Australia and overseas. 

Artist statement

These new paintings range through familiar areas of interest. They are described as "floating worlds" because images from a diverse set of mainly cultural references float across the canvas in an ambiguous multi-level pictorial space. They are floating as if they were already in the mind, accumulated as memories, associations, thoughts and signs.

This approach to painting is strongly influenced by the artist's visits to Papunya in the 1980's and the show includes many references to this time in the artist's life,  drawn from photographs that are being constantly re-invented and re-contextualised. The work is still collaborative and references Buddhism, drawing from Tibetan traditions as well as the kind of contemporary buddhist art you might find for sale on the internet.

The Buddhist idea of the Pure Land is used because it represents a better world than the one in which we live and allows the artist to take an idealised, utopian world view. Art is the perfect vehicle for expressing an approach like this, with it's own language of cultural and spiritual signifiers and it's own history of critiquing, documenting and romanticising the social.

UFO's come into the picture as something that is an unknown but, in a sense,  of the future. It is something that seems to be beyond our understanding, yet has been part of world culture for some time now. Exra-terrestrials or off world entities are not that far removed from the gods, deities,  starmen, visitors and lawgivers of the ancient past.      

Artworks included in the exhibition:

(for details of the works, please hold cursor over the image)



Views of the exhibition



1947            Born in Sydney. Lives and works in Sydney.

1966-70       Studied at the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney.

1997-98       Australia Council Fellowship.

1999            Mosman Art Prize
                    Sceggs Redlands Art Prize.

2013            Paddington Art Prize



1970            Off the Wall, Gallery A, Sydney.

1971            Installation as Conceptual Scheme, Inhibodress, Sydney.

1972            Diary, Voyeur, Fittings, Disclosures, etc., Pinacotheca, Melbourne.

1973            University of Queensland, Brisbane.

1977            Gallery A, Sydney.

1979            Mori Gallery, Sydney.

1982            Wheel of Life, Mori Gallery, Sydney.

1984            The Drunken Boat, Mori Gallery, Sydney.

1985            Conceptual Painting, Union Street Gallery, Sydney.

1986            Esoteric Landscape, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                    Languish, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.

1987            Papunya Revisited, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane.
                   Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.

1988            Richard Pomeroy Gallery, London.

1989            A Survey 1956-1989, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                   Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.

1991            Armageddon, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                    Chapman Gallery, Canberra.

1992            Bellas Gallery, Brisbane.
                    Visualisation, Mori Gallery, Sydney.

1993            Shareware, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne. 
                    Across Cultures, Ian Potter Gallery, University of Melbourne.

1994            Tim Johnson, Glasgow Museum, Glasgow.
                    Asia, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                    Chapman Gallery, Canberra. 

1995            Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.
                    Non La, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane.
                    4 Directions, Mori Gallery, Sydney

1996            Chapman Gallery, Canberra.

1997            On The Internet, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                    CD installation, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.

1998            Alien Land, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.
                    The Sources are Real, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                    Tim Johnson and Karma Phuntsok, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane.

2000            What the Eye Knows, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.
                    Collaborations, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane.
                    Far out, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                    Pure Land, Chapman Gallery, Canberra.

2001            Tim Johnson, Lord Mori Gallery, Los Angeles, USA. 
Presence, Paddington Uniting Church, Sydney.

2002            Bellas Gallery, Brisbane.

2003            Insignia, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.
                    Threads of Destiny, Mori Gallery, Sydney, (with My Le Thi).
                    Karyn Lovegrove Gallery, LA, USA.
                    Bellas Gallery, Brisbane.

2004            Serindia, Mori Gallery, Sydney.

2005            Far Out, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.
                    Full Moon, Bellas Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
                    Punk Paintings and Prints, Bellas Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

2007            Anomalous, Lister Gallery, Perth.
                    Nurture, Bellas Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
                    Tim Johnson, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.

2008            Graphomania, Chapman Gallery, Canberra.

2009            Emporium, Lister gallery, Perth.
                    Painting Ideas, Art Gallery of N.S.W. and Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane,

2010            World's Apart, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.
                    Emulation, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney.

2013-2014   The Luminescent Ground, Ikon Gallery. Birmingham, United Kingdom

2014        Eye to Eye, Nancy Sever Gallery, Canberra.

2014            Otherkin, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney and Germany

                    Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of NSW

                    Milani Gallery, Brisbane 

                    Performance,  Gertrude st, Melbourne

2015            Art as a verb

                   Aliens, conspirances., Dominik Mersch Gallery


1973            Recent Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

1979            Third Biennale of Sydney: European Dialogue, (Film program), AGNSW

1983            Australian Perspecta ’83, AGNSW,  Sydney.

1984            The Politics of Picturing, Institute of Modern Art and Tasmanian School of Art Gallery.

1985            Dot and Circle, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne.
                    Close Remarks, Artspace, Sydney.
                    Two Worlds CollideCultural Convergence in Aboriginal and White Australian Art, Artspace, Sydney.

1986            Two Worlds, Lismore Regional Gallery.
                    Sixth Biennale of Sydney: Origins, Originality and Beyond, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Pier 2/3, Sydney.
                    Symbolism and Landscape, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney.

1987            Shadow of Reason, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.
                    Young Australians, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
                    A New Romance, ANG, Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra.

1988            Stories of Australian Art, Commonwealth Institute, London.
                    Contemporary Australian Art to China, state museums of Beijing, Wuhan, Shanghai, 
                    and Guangzhou.

1989            Inhibodress 1970-72, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.

1990            Paraculture, Artists Space, New York.
                    Art Frankfurt, Kunstmesse, Frankfurt.
                    Out of Asia, Heide Gallery, Melbourne and Regional Galleries.
                    L’Été Australien à Montpelier, Musée Fabre, Galérie Saint Ravy, Montpelier.
                    Balance, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.
                    Art Dock, Noumea, New Caledonia

1991            Chicago International Fine Art Fair, Chicago, USA.
                    Off the Wall/In the Air: A Seventies Selection, Monash UniversityGallery,
                    Artists Make Books, Linden Gallery, Melbourne.
                    Rivers, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

1992            Documenta IX, Kassel, Germany.
                    International Contemporary Art Fair, Pacifico Yokohama. Exhibition Hall, Japan.
                    Domino I: Collaborations Between Artists, Ian Potter Gallery, Melbourne.

1992-93       Ninth Biennale of Sydney: The Boundary Rider, Art Gallery of New South Wales and
                    Bond Store 3/4, Sydney.

1993            Wits End, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
                    Art Frankfurt, Messe Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany.
                    Art Cologne, Koln Messe, Cologne, Germany.
                    Luminaries, Monash University, Melbourne.
                    Inaugural Exhibition, Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne.

1993-94       Identities: Art from Australia, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan; Wollongong City Gallery
                    and Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Queensland.

1994            Light and Movement, Museum Contemporary Art, Sydney.
                    25 Years of Performance Art in Australia, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney.

1995            Antipodean Currents, Guggenheim Museum, New York.
                    Asia & Oceania Influence, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney.

1996            Hidden Treasures II, S.H. Erwin Gallery, Sydney.
                    Colonial, Post-Colonial, Museum of Modern Art, Heide, Melbourne.
                    Art Cologne, Cologne Germany.
                    Australia: Familiar and Strange, Seoul Arts Centre, Korea. 

1997            Spirit + Place, MCA Sydney.
                    Objects + Ideas, MCA, Sydney.
                    Plastic Fantastic, MCA, Sydney. 
                    Inside, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany.
                    Similar, (with My Le Thi) 4A Gallery, Sydney.
                    Dead Sun, AGNSW, Sydney.
                    MacCaughey Prize Exhibition, NGV, Victoria.

1998            Mingling of Cultures, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
                    Crossing Boundaries, (with Zen Yipu and My Le Thi), Drill Hall Gallery, ANU, Canberra.
                    Wilderness Society Exhibition, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                    Verve, S.H. Erwin Gallery, Sydney.
                    Commonwealth Art, Malaysia.
                    Be Seeing You: one night of video, Mori Gallery, Sydney.
                    Dylan, Tim Johnson and Greg Weight, Michael Nagy Fine Art, Sydney

1998-99       Ways of Being, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, and touring Australia.

1999            Tolarno Galleries, Perth Festival, Perth.
                    We are Australian, National Touring Exhibition, Melbourne.
                    Bright and Shining, 4A Gallery, Sydney.
                    Bright and Shining, Tokyo, Australian Embassy, Tokyo.
                    Global Arts link inaugural exhibition, Ipswich, Queensland.
                    Chicago Art Fair, Chicago, USA.
                    The Rose Crossing, Queensland Art Gallery, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong.
                    What John Berger Saw, ANU, and touring.
                    The Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.
                    Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane.

2000            The Rose Crossing, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore; S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney; Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery, Sydney.
                    Restricting the Palette, Colour and Land, Canberra.
                    From Appreciation to Appropriation, Adelaide Arts Festival, Adelaide.
                    Project 2/2000, an affiliated exhibition of Biennale of Sydney,  The University of Sydney.
                    Flight Patterns, MOCA, Los Angeles.  
                    Expressions of Faith, Shenpen Australia, Vaucluse, NSW.

2001            The Mandala Project, Gallery 4A, Asian Australian Arts Centre, Sydney,
                    3 Views of Emptiness, Monash University, Victoria.
                    Art/Music: rock, pop, techno, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
                    Buddha Radiant Awakening, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney.
                    Yab Yum, Contemporary Project,  Shenpen2, Melbourne. 
                    Viet Nam Voices, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne. 
                    Absolut, LA International Biennial Art Invitational, Los Angeles.

2001-02       ‘So you wanna be a rock star’, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

2002            Imaging Identity and Place, Grafton Regional Gallery, and touring NSW. 
                    Points of View, UTS Art Collection, UTS Gallery, NSW.
                    Sulman Prize, AGNSW, Sydney.
                    White, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane.
                    Contemporary Portraiture, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
                    Tim Johnson, Lord Mori Gallery, Los Angeles.

2003            Museum of Contemporary Art  Unpacked II, MCA, Sydney.
                    Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968-2002, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
                    Parallel Worlds, Tim Johnson and My Le Thi, UTS Gallery, Sydney.
                    Art and about, Sydney Council Visual art event, Sydney.

2004            The State of Art Peace, Manly Art Gallery, and touring NSW.
                    Pop, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.
                    White/Light, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.
                    MCA Unpacked II - Selections from the MCA Collection, University of S.A., Adelaide.

2006            The Sound of the Sky, NT Museum, Darwin.
                    Lives and Times, National Gallery of Victoria touring.

2007            Bloodlines Hawkesbury Regional Gallery NSW.
                    The Luminescent Ground Wollongong Regional Gallery, NSW.
                    Multiplicity: Prints and Multiples, MCA Sydney, NSW.
                    Blast, the influence of Manga, Redcliffe Gallery Comple, Redcliffe, NSW.
                    Smile of the Buddha, Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra.

2008            The Visitors, Penrith Regional Gallery, Penrith NSW.
                    Peep, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Melbourne, Victoria.
                    Drawn In, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
                    An Ever Expanding Universe, Pica, Perth.
                    Open Air, Portraits in the landscape, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

2009            Gallery A 1964-1983, Campbelltown City Art Gallery NSW.
                    Avoiding myth & message: Australian artists and the literary world, MCA Sydney.

2010            Sacred Spaces, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW.
                    Roundabout, City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand.
                    Hong Kong Art Fair, Hong Kong.

2012            Singapore Art Fair Singapore.
                    Arthur Guy Prize, Bendigo Art Gallery Victoria.
                    Quest for Red, Macleay Museum Sydney University.
                    Exhibition7, Art of Australia. Kunstwerk Sammlung, Nussdorf, Germany.
                    Afterglow, Monash Art Gallery, Melbourne. 
                    New Psychedelic University of Queensland, Brisbane.
                    Refugee, University of Queensland, Brisbane.
                    Together in Harmony, Korea.
                    Australia-Korea show, Museum of Contemporary Art.
                    Hong Kong Art Fair Hong Kong, China

2014.          Country and Western, Townsville 

                   Paris Photo France

2015           Mathias Gerber

                   Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of NSW

                   East-West, Art Gallery of NSW



National Gallery of Australia and all State Galleries

Allen Allen & Hemsley

Fairfax Collection

Griffith University

Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane

Monash University

The Joseph Brown Collection

The Kerry Stokes Collection

University of New South Wales. Sydney

The Australian National University

Private collections in Australia and overseas



1988            ICA, London.
                    Sydney University, Sydney.

1993            Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

1995            Queensland University.
                    University of New South Wales.

1998            National Gallery of Australia.
                    Ivan Dougherty Gallery.

1999            Sydney University, Sydney.
                    Canberra School of Art, ANU, Canberra.
                    Dubbo Gallery, Dubbo, NSW.
                    Australian Embassy Tokyo.

2000            Sydney University, Sydney.
                    Art Gallery of New South Wales, ‘Conversation with Artists'

2004            Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.



1993            Guest Lecturer, Northern Territory University, Darwin.

1994            Residential Landscape Workshop, Flying Art School, Lake Julius, Queensland.

1998            Electronic Identities in East Asia Workshop, ANU, Canberra.

1999            Visiting Fellow, Canberra School of Art, ANU.
                    Ways of Being Workshop, Dubbo, NSW.

2000            Sydney University, Sydney.

2001-03       Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney.