Paul Eric Johnson

When I came to Boston it was a black and white town, with a tint of brick. Color photography remained suspect, if yet to be considered art. But Paul Simon had his Kodachrome and so did I. Only recently have new pigment printers been able to express the subtlety of its colors with computer control beyond the imagination of that former wet darkroom. In the new Boston Color series, expressive neutrals, richly warm pastels, truth in earth tones, bright reds, varietal greens, shaping blues contribute to become these colors of memory.

The Crappy Negatives series utilizes scratched and neglected film, and a cheap lo res scanner to set the motif for creative resurrection of the decades old B&W archive. Pushing pixels here sometimes can feel a bit like painting Mudhead portraits on a Provincetown beach early in the 20th Century.

The Reimagine New England suite is comprised of 48 large archival pigment prints each with an original poem printed on the interleaf vellum. For me the challenge is to find in our perceptions of the past the enduring presence of this place and moment, of a future becoming. The effort of words and pictures is that they would empower each other.

Artist Statement:
When I came to Boston it was a predominantly gray town, with the tint of sooty brick. Months of dirty snow and the cloudy skies of a northeast coastal breeze dampened its traditions, a persistently Puritan atmosphere. It was a black and white town with documentary de rigueur. While photography might yet be considered art, color remained suspect. But if Paul Simon could have his Kodachrome and a Nikon camera, so would I. Yes, those "nice bright colors" – actually much more subtle than that, qualities that the vintage Cibachrome prints I made could only marginally portray.

See the color paint the light. Today's pigment printers provide new opportunities to closer follow this timeless edict of Provincetown plein air painters. Ten inks to reach the color depth, scans record to the limit of film grain, seemingly limitless computer control, and archival art papers bring me back to these images. I've chosen a Platine fiber paper with a surface like that of classic modernists for this series. Saturation and hue, and especially a luminance help convey the essence of light. Expressive neutrals, richly warm pastels, truth in earth tones, bright reds, varietal greens, shaping blues contribute to become the colors of memory.

Artist's Images

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