This painting examines how belief systems and superstition relate to the production of knowledge. One theory of human culture postulates that early myths about throwing silver and copper coins into wishing wells became popular because these activities made the water safer to drink. This act likely prevented bacterial infections in the practitioners, making them appear healthier and more prosperous—regardless of whether these results were their intention or not, or whether they had any knowledge of the biocidal properties of metal.
Robinson’s paintings turn foundational power structures on their head through the use of humor, absurdity and irony. The artist's compositions undermine prevailing ideas about anthropocentrism, or the belief that human beings are the center of the universe—an idea proliferated by Western painting and especially works in the art historical canon. Robinson's paintings frequently depict forest-like settings where human-made structures such as towers are fantastically constructed out of women, animals and inanimate objects. At times, the compositions resemble the characters in "Town Musicians of Bremen"—a popular German fairy tale in which aging domestic animals run away from their overbearing masters.
Johanna Robinson’s paintings employ humor, absurdity and irony to undermine anthropocentrism—or the belief in the centrality of human beings and their experience, an idea proliferated by the Western art canon. The artist’s work, connected to a long lineage of women surrealist and symbolist painters, relies on imagination as a source for truth-seeking and world-building. Robinson’s compositions turn foundational power structures on their head, resembling popular fairy tales where animals escape their overbearing masters.
Johanna Robinson was born in New York. The artist received an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia (2007) and a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts with Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts (2018). Robinson spent a decade living in Portland, Oregon; much of the surrounding wilderness in the area became the backdrop for her work.
Exhibitions of Robinson’s work include: AmphorasamorphA, curated by Sally Beauty at Flux Factory on Governor's Island, New York; Welcome at Tomato Mouse in Brooklyn, New York; The Symbolists: Les Fleurs du mal, curated by Nicole Kaack at Hesse Flatow in New York City; In Gratitude at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon; New American Paintings Pacific Coast Review at Zevitas Marcus in Los Angeles, California; Zeit-Geist-Zeit at Gaa Gallery in Wellfleet, Massachusetts; Wildernesses at Peninsula Art Space in Brooklyn, New York; Phone Home, curated by Wendy Vogel at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City; Surreality at Crush Curatorial in New York City; Emerge at Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, Virginia; and Not One But The Other at Art Bermondsey Project Space in London, UK.
Robinson has been awarded artist residencies at: Leland Iron Works at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon; the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont; and MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts. The artist’s work has been featured in The Brooklyn Rail, Sammy’s World and New American Paintings.
Robinson lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
This painting examines how belief systems and superstition relate to the production of knowledge. The metal of the coins, which have presumably been tossed into the fountain with the hopes of granting a wish, simultaneously provide water purification for the surrounding ecosystem.More