Tim Johnson: Inter-Are. Nancy Sever Gallery, Gorman House Arts Centre, 55 Ainslie Ave, Braddon. Closes December 20.
Whereas for most figurative artists we can speak of imagery and iconography, in the case of Tim Johnson, it is a cosmography and a whole worldview.
To the casual observer, there is little change from one exhibition to the next, with the mesmerising sea of colour dots within which swim submerged Buddhist imagery, stoas, flying saucers, cult music figures and many more disparate elements.
Having had the privilege of seeing a number of his exhibitions, the prevailing "sameness" disguises a mounting intensity or interconnectedness of his universe.
There are two very broad philosophies of being - in one, man is the centre of all things and all elements exist independently, so that the life and death of one person is largely unrelated to the life and death of another.
The alternative Buddhist philosophy is that everything is interrelated; not only are all people connected to all other people - like the fingers of a hand, each is different but intimately connected - but all animate and inanimate matter is interconnected.
So that in the case of the environment, if humankind adopts a short-term perspective and exploits nature beyond its ability to recover, the fact that everything is interconnected will ultimately lead to the destruction of all.
Johnson explains his ideas on interconnectivity as things being "inter-are", a phraseology associated with the Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Johnson writes, "I am not trying to apply it [inter-are] directly to my paintings, but it offers a kind of explanation for being able to bring so many different ideas, images and references together.
Plurality could have the effect of collapsing difference in a cultural sense but a painting can engage with many issues and ideas once a visual language has been established.
If there are connections between 'all things' as the concept of 'inter-are' explains then an artist is in a good position to explore this terrain."
One of the most impressive paintings at this exhibition is "New Metamorphosis 2", 2020, a large acrylic canvas, which is a beautiful immersive experience.
It is less deliberate than many of his other paintings, appearing more like expansive desert sands that in places have been swept aside to reveal mirage-like imagery.
There is a subtle balance of elements where a tree, figure or animal can be made up and as you focus and dissolve into the work, each element seems to be connected with another, then another until it appears like a multiplicity of voices combine in harmony as a choir.
"New Metamorphosis 2" has a very subtle and subdued colour palette that aids in the meditation process. I remember Ian Fairweather once saying that he disliked brightly coloured things and how the Chinese manage to achieve some of their best work with a very restrained range of colours.
Whites, beige and ochres make up much of this painting with an occasional flicker of a pale green or just a spot of red and a touch of blue.
It has the power to enthral and to enchant and to keep the viewer's attention focused over a prolonged period of time.
It brings to mind a large canvas in Johnson's previous exhibition at this gallery, "New Metamorphosis", 2019, except this one is even more ambitious, more subtle and more restrained.
There are several very strong paintings in the show, including "Arthur Rimbaud", 2019, "Turkey Tolson", 2020 and "Thredbo Blues", 2020.
Almost like a reminder on how far the artist has travelled in his art, on the back wall of the gallery are some earlier pieces including "Clifford Possum", 2003 and "Tanami Track", 2002.