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.


1970            Off the Wall, Gallery A, Sydney.

1971            Installation as Conceptual Scheme, Inhibodress, Sydney.

Installation as Conceptual Scheme, The Mezzanine, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Canada.

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

1973            Art Week, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

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. 
, 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, Queensland
                    Punk Paintings and Prints, Bellas Milani Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland

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

2008            Graphomania, Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT

2009            Emporium, Lister gallery, Perth, WA

2009-10       Painting Ideas, Art Gallery of N.S.W. and Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

2010 Emulation, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney, NSW

           World's Apart, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, Victoria
2012            Optic nerve, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, Victoria

2013   The Luminous Ground, Ikon Gallery. Birmingham, United Kingdom

2014            Otherkin, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney NSW

            Eye to Eye, Nancy Sever Gallery, Canberra, ACT

Conceptual Work / New Paintings, Milani Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland  

                    Performance,  Gertrude st, Melbourne     

2015            Open Source, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, Victoria

2016            Conspiracies, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney, NSW

                    Floating Worlds, Nancy Sever Gallery, Canberra, ACT

2017            Metamodernism, Milani Gallery  Brisbane, Queensland

2018            The View from Mount Meru, Nancy Sever Gallery, Canberra


1970 Neon-Light Installations, Tim Johnson and Peter Kennedy, Gallery A, Sydney, NSW.

1971 Activities, Inhibodress, Sydney, NSW.

Kaldor Art Project 2, I want to leave a nice well done child here (20 Australian artists). Bonython Gallery, Sydney, NSW

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

Object and idea, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria

1978 Act 1: Performance and Participatory Art, ANU Arts Centre, Canberra, ACT

Political Practice, Galleria Civica, Modena, Italy

1978-79 Artists Books: Bookworks Ewing and George Patton Galleries and elsewhere, touring Australia

1979           Third Biennale of Sydney: European Dialogue, (Film program), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.

Contemporary Australian Artists: A Survey, touring the United States of America.

1983            Australian Perspecta ’83, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW

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

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

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, NSW
                    Symbolism and Landscape, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, NSW

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

1988            Creating Australia: 200 years of Art 1788-1988, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA.

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

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

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

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

International Contemporary Art Fair, pacifico Yokohama, Exhibition Hall, Japan

           Domino I: Collaborations Between Artists, Ian Potter Gallery, Melbourne.

1992 Documenta IX, Kassel, Germany.

Ninth Biennale of Sydney: The Boundary Rider, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

1993            Wits End, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW
                    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, Revisiting Minimalism,  Museum Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW
                    25 Years of Performance Art in Australia, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, NSW

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

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

1997            Spirit + Place, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. NSW
                    Objects + Ideas, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. NSW
                    Plastic Fantastic, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. NSW
                    Inside, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany.
                    Similar, (with My Le Thi) 4A Gallery, Sydney, NSW
                    Dead Sun, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
                    MacCaughey Prize Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria, Victoria.

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

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

1999            Tolarno Galleries, Perth Festival, Perth, WA.
                    We are Australian, National Touring Exhibition, Melbourne,
                    Bright and Shining, 4A Gallery, Sydney.
                    Bright and Shining, Tokyo, Australian Embassy, Tokyo, Japan
                    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, Queensland

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, ACT
                    From Appreciation to Appropriation, Adelaide Arts Festival, Adelaide, South Australia.
                    Project 2/2000, an affiliated exhibition of Biennale of Sydney,  The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
                    Flight Patterns, MOCA, Los Angeles, USA
                    Expressions of Faith, Shenpen Australia, Vaucluse, NSW.

2001            The Mandala Project, Gallery 4A, Asian Australian Arts Centre, Sydney, NSW
                    3 Views of Emptiness, Monash University, Victoria.
                    Art/Music: rock, pop, techno, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW
                    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, USA

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, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
                    White, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane, queensland
                    Contemporary Portraiture, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
                    Tim Johnson, Lord Mori Gallery, Los Angeles, USA

2003            Museum of Contemporary Art  Unpacked II, MCA, Sydney, NSW
                    Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968-2002, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria
                    Parallel Worlds, Tim Johnson and My Le Thi, UTS Gallery, Sydney, NSW.
                    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, Queensland
                    White/Light, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland
                    MCA Unpacked II - Selections from the MCA Collection, University of S.A., Adelaide, SA

2005 Blast, the influence of Manga, Redcliffe Gallery Complex, Redcliffe, NSW.
                    Smile of the Buddha, Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, ACT.

2006            The Sound of the Sky,  Museum of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
                    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.

2008            The Visitors, Penrith Regional Gallery, Penrith, NSW.

Gallery A 1964-1983, Campbelltown City Art Gallery, NSW.
                    Peep, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Melbourne, Victoria.
                    Drawn In, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
                    An Ever Expanding Universe, Pica, Perth.

Yin Yang, SH Ervin Gallery, Sydney, NSW.
                    Open Air, Portraits in the landscape, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, ACT

Lives and Times: A Selection of Works on tour from the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, National Gallery of Victoria

touring exhibition

2009           Avoiding myth & message: Australian artists and the literary world, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW

Queensland Art 2009, David Pestorius Projects, Brisbane, Qld.

Australian Paintings, Hamilton Art Gallery, Hamilton

+/— MUMA - , Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, Victoria

2010            Roundabout, City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand                                                                                                                                                                    We Call Them Pirates Out Here, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW.

                   Who’s Afraid of Red White & Blue, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, Victoria                                                                                                        Sacred Spaces, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW                                                                                                                                                              WHAT SURROUNDS ME, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney, NSW                                                                                                                                              Top Guns 2010, Richard Martin Australian Art, Sydney, NSW                                                                                                                                                      AGENDA 2010, Group Show, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney. NSW                                                                                                                                        Hong Kong Art Fair, Hong Kong.

2011            Black elastic, two umbrellas, a mint leaf and wheels Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, Victoria                                                                            Tell me Tell me: Australian and Korean art 1976-2011, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea                                                                          Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize, Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo, Victoria.

2012         101 Contemporary Australian Artists, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria  

5 Bells, Damien Minton Gallery, Redfern, NSW                                                                                                                                                                           Biennale of Sydney, All Our Relations Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW                                                                                                               The Unseen, the 4th Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China                                                                                                       Less is More,  Heide, Melbourne Victoria                                                                                                                                                                                       Collective Memory, Lake Macquarie Gallery, NSW                                                                                                                                                                       Exhibition7, Art of Australia, Kunstwerk Sammlung, Nussdorf, Germany                                                                                                                                     Together in Harmony, Australia-Korea show, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea                                                                                           Collaborative Witness: Artists’ responses to the plight of the asylum seeker and refugee, University of Queensland, Brisbane                                                 Recent Acquisitions, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Melbourne                                                                                                                                                       Singapore Art Fair, Singapore                                                                                                                                                                                                       Hong Kong Art Fair, Hong Kong                                                                                                                                                                                                     New Psychedelia, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane

2013             Four Corners of the World, Hite Collection, Seoul, Korea                                                                                                                                                             Australia, Royal Academy of Arts London, England                                                                                                                                                                       Mix Tape 1980's, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Victoria                                                                                                                                               Collective Identity(Ies), Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery                                                                                                                                                               Wildcards: Bill Henson Shuffles The Deck, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne                                                                                                         Dominik Mersch Gallery at Galerie Patrick Ebensperger, Berlin, Germany                                                                                                                                  Haute école d’art et design, Genève, Geneva, Switzerland                                                                                                                                                          Nah Und Fern: Landscape Painting in the 21st Century, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney                                                                                                         Sydney Contemporary, Sydney, NSW

2014              Light Performance, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, Victoria                                                                                                                                                Sound+Heard, Goma Brisbane Queensland                                                                                                                                                                                  Wynne Art competition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.                                                                                                                                                           

2015               Sulman Art Competition Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW                                                                                                                                     Art as a Verb, Monash University Art Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria and Artspace, Sydney                                                                                                           Aliens, conspiracies, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney, NSW.

Conversations, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW                                                                                                                                                     Art Basel, Hong Kong                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sydney Contemporary, Sydney, NSW                                                                                                                                                                                       

2016               Sulman Art Competition. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NS                                                                                                                                       Country and Western: Landscape re-imagined – S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney NSW                                                                                                                     Black White & Restive - Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW                                                                                                                                               Paris Photo, Paris, France                                                                                                                                                                                                            Australian and Chinese artists, Beijing, China                                                                                                                                                                               Beyond the Tower, University of Queensland Gallery Art Museum, Brisbane, Queensland                                                                                                          Art Basil, Hong Kong

2017               Sugar Spin at GOMA, Brisbane, Queensland                                                                                                                                                                               Buddha's Smile at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Victoria                                                                                                                                         Charming Confusion, Vermillion Gallery, Sydney, NSW                                                                                                                                                               Landing Points  Penrith Regional gallery,  Emu Plains, NSW                                                                                                                                                       In site: Process Performance, Documentation University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane Queensland

2018               Transcendance Live in Art Gallery, Sydney, NSW                                                                                                                                                                         Redlands Art Competition NAS Sydney NSW



National Gallery of Australia and all State Galleries

Allen Allen & Hemsley

Fairfax Collection

Griffith University, Queensland

MOCA, Brisbane. Queensland

Monash University. Victoria

The Joseph Brown Collection

The Kerry Stokes Collection

University of New South Wales. Sydney, NSW

The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Macquarie Bank

Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW

Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs NT

Private collections in Australia and overseas


Australia Council Fellowship (1997-8)

Woollahra Art Competition

Drummoyne Art Competition

C.A.S. Art Competition

Mosman Art Prize

Sceggs Redlands Art Prize

Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize.


1988            ICA, London.
                    Sydney University, Sydney.

1993            Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

1995            Queensland University.Brisbane, Queensland
                    University of New South Wales, Sydney,NSW

1998            National Gallery of Australia., Canberra ACT
                    Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney,NSW

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

2000            Sydney University, Sydney, NSW

Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery, NSW
                    Art Gallery of New South Wales, ‘Conversation with Artists'

2004            Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. Queensland

2009            Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland



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.