Publication: Greg Johns, Sculpture 1978-1990, Catalogue
Date: April 1987
Author: Heather Ellyard
Sculpture occupies space. It is 3-dimensional.
Therefore it exists in time.
Space and Time, a continuum.
Anything which requires space demands time...
To exist in that space.
Greg Johns' work is particularly and carefully attuned to this principle. He has, with great consistency, worked with the theme of form in space and change though time.
Greg works within a framework of art-historical continuity........what I call a time line, he is making his line, his position, and he works along it with energy and integrity.
That line come from an abstract formal tradition (Brancusi, Noguchi, Meadmore etc.) using formal, geometric elements, using systems and patterns, without deviation, interruption or temptation, precisely and purely.
He has been labelled a formalist.
If he were that and nothing more, he would still be good.
But he is more than structure, formal geometry, monumental mathematics.
It is what I have coined: Geometric Metamorphosis.
I mean.....he uses geometry, an ancient and honourable tool, in order to explore change, both physically and metaphysically.
The work stands utterly mute and monumental, yet the pieces change, move, metamorphose from one thing to another and are present to our own movement and our own perceptions of change.
The work becomes in this way, symbolic of opposites correlating, lining up together, exchanging habits.
The square circles. The curve straightens. The inside becomes the outside. The open closes. The contemplative teases. Greg himself calls it: Opposites coming together.
I have read that physics began 25 hundred years ago, from the mystical philosophies of the early Greeks. Their aim was to discover the essence of all things, called "Physis".
Heraclitus believed in a world of ""Perpetual Change" the "Eternal Becoming" the dynamic interplay of opposites.
Parmenides opposed Heraclitus, he believed that the perception of change was an "illusion", that matter was unchangeable.
I cannot begin to speak accurately on them or on Einstein and relativity, and the concept of matter changing but being indestructible.
What I can say though, is that Greg John's mind gravitates toward these ideas, and that his sculpture is a realisation of his thinking.
Greg is working with a balance of opposites, and I am indicating that balance, in our time/is precarious, at best.
I would like to quote from Fritjov Capra, the author of a beautiful book called: The Tao of Physics, published in 1975. But I must preface when saying that Capra, as a physicist, was led to contemplate writing this book by a profound sense of destructive imbalance in our modern world.
"Modern physics, pictures matter not at all as passive and inert, but as being in a continuous dancing and vibrating motion whose rhythmic patterns are determined by the molecular, atomic and nuclear structures. This is also the way in which the Eastern mystics see the material world. They all emphasize that the universe has to be grasped dynamically, as it moves, vibrates and dances; that nature is not static, but in a dynamic equilibrium. In the words of a Taoist text,"
"The stillness in stillness is not the real stillness. Only when there is stillness in movement can the spiritual rhythm appear which pervades heaven and earth."