This still life painting depicts lilies blooming in a vase, with individual stems gesturing across the composition in a sort of dance. This work exemplifies the artist’s interest in exploring the formal strategies of painting, such as movement and color.

① Artwork:

Untitled, Lilies

This work is part of a series of still life paintings by the artist. Each work depicts lilies at different stages of bloom, arranged in a single vase set upon a table. Individual stems gesture and move across the composition in a sort of dance, presumably affected by gravity or time. This work exemplifies the artist’s interest in exploring the formal strategies of painting, such as movement and how colors interact when applied to shapes. The arrangements are entirely constructed, and the flowers are often distorted in order to stay within the frame. In addition to the lilies, the artist has included other objects: glowing phones, books without visible text, a pinecone and other everyday things—as if they just happened to be left there by someone who is not otherwise present.

Although Ezra Johnson painted these works “from life,” the artist's process emphasized subjective truth rather than objective fact. The resulting figures are nothing like the original models. In the history of painting, flower forms are commonly used for the exploration of color. Similarly, Johnson has explored several compositional and color possibilities in these playful works. Remnants of these experiments show up as ghost textures or colors in between the shapes, and are evidence of the artist's trial and error approach.


26 inches
22 inches

③ Artist:

Ezra Johnson

Ezra Johnson’s work is playful and energetic exploration of formal strategies of painting. Interested in experimenting with color, form and surface, the artist’s painting practice frequently expands into animation and sculpture. One of the driving forces behind Johnson’s work is making paintings of so-called everyday objects; the artist traces this back to his painterly heroes, such as Chardin, Matisse and Morandi.


Ezra Johnson was born in Wenatchee, Washington in 1975. The artist received an MFA from Hunter College in New York City in 2006 and a BFA from California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2000. 

Johnson’s work has been exhibited in many prestigious museums, including: the Nerman Museum of Art in Kansas; the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California; the Site Santa Fe Biennial in New Mexico; the ICA in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; as well as nationally and internationally in gallery exhibitions.

Johnson is represented by Freight + Volume Gallery in New York City and Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami, Florida. 

Johnson lives and works in Tampa, Florida, where the artist is an Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of South Florida.

Ezra Johnson:
Untitled, Lilies, 2022
Oil on linen
22.0 × 26.0 inches /