Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Putting painting in perspective.

Byline: Artist's View JO BASISTE For the Journal

Reclusive landscapist's obsessive concentration is a search for something like Platonic forms

A few artists paint purely for the love of art. Here, in the midst of our pervasively commercial art scene such a one is Whitman Johnson. Twenty-five years ago, Johnson and I showed in the same gallery. We sometimes painted together, sharing models. Johnson was a more formal, rigorous painter than I was. As we worked, I admired his small palette, with only four colors laid out along the edge of the polished wood.

During these sessions, he would often clean its surface and reset the paints. More surprising, he would scrape down his painting after hours of work, and start afresh. I would be well into my second, detailed painting while he was laying in the basic forms of his multilayered one. Composition and color were paramount to him.

Johnson was my favorite artist in the 70s and 80s. I would always stop by Ernesto Mayans Gallery periodically to see if Johnson had any new landscapes. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.