MEET PJ Johnson
… ultimately the works are an expression of internal numbness, turning the feeling of nothing into something.
PJ grew up in Dumfries, Scotland.
Childhood was sheltered. One sister, and one brother. PJ was the youngest.
Parents were Catholic and PJ was made to regularly attend church, though they didn’t particularly want to. It was there their first interest in art was piqued with the paintings that lined the walls between the church windows spending many hours staring at them.
Growing up they were very introverted and didn’t have many close friends. They were naturally creative but didn’t particularly feel like they had a specific direction in terms of developing artistically. A defining moment was discovering Chicago imagists the Monster Roster and Hairy Who collectives as part of a school project, particularly the work of Jim Nutt resonated with PJ.
After leaving school they moved to Glasgow to study painting and printmaking at the Glasgow School of Fine Art. PJ never finished.
The death of a close friend deeply affected PJ and they grew despondent and moved back home for two years, not practising any form of artwork. After coming across the school project that was packed away in their bedroom, PJ decided to begin drawing to try and push through the creative block. Predominantly using ink, pen and watercolour, what resulted was a continuing series of works inspired by the thought if you can’t feel anything, then nothing can hurt you. PJ exaggerates this, often inspired by lyrics to give a direction to the characters fate. But ultimately the works are an expression of internal numbness, turning the feeling of nothing into something.
In 2017 PJ travelled around New Zealand for a holiday to get a new sense of perspective, and was particularly taken with Dunedin, where they decided to relocate and start a new chapter.