Artist Brett Allen Johnson captures the tranquil beauty of the American Southwest in immersive oil paintings. He carefully renders his memories of pristine desert places that are dominated by vermillion rock formations and blanketed by bright blue skies. Together, they create mesmerizing snapshots of the iconic terrain.
Johnson's love of the West began in childhood, with his frequent travels around his home state of Utah and to Sedona, Arizona, where his grandparents resided. Through his training in drawing, design, and painting, he began to cultivate a unique style that emphasizes the light and shapes of landscapes. “These badlands and deserts, the arid canyons, the playas, and great basins—these are where my work began, where it begins,” Johnson says. In his rendered vistas, the environment is the primary subject, and the people, animals, and even plants that cohabit are decorative in comparison.
While these depictions look like real portrayals of the desert, they are usually created from Johnson's imagination. “I am not often a painter of literal places,” he explains. “I regularly invent entire works or paint them from memory. I like to invite observers into a world that is merely similar to the one they know, an adjacent world. Perhaps, the adjacent West.” The towering red mountains, overwhelming cerulean skies, and cactus-dotted ground that are so often featured in Johnson's paintings are some of the common iconographies we associate with the Southwestern landscape. Similarly, the occasional horse and cowboy imbue these open spaces with an escapist romanticism.
You can purchase available paintings through Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Los Angeles, and keep up to date with Johnson's latest work by following him on Instagram.