Ryan Johnson

Download Artist’s CV

Ryan Johnson
Shower, 2007
Carpet, gesso, plywood, water based marker, brass rods, steel, acrylic paint conduit, plastic tubing
233.7 x 119.4 x 163.8 cm

Ryan Johnson
Sentinel (Orange) (detail), 2008
Casting tape, rebar, plywood, cement, plastic, spray paint, glass, aluminium, enamel paint
327.7 x 124.5 x 55.9 cm

Made from plaster bandage, Johnson’s Sentinel (Orange) towers with mummified clumsiness; its hollowed skin a disembodied armour encasing a time-defying tick-tock face. Its hazard orange – the actual colour of the medical tape – doubles as emergency unit uniform; the figure is an unsung hero of past and present, an underappreciated deity of safety and assurance. Rescuing his paladins from an eternally forlorn fate, Johnson’s sculptures in this series were originally exhibited with marker pens tied to their appendages, inviting viewers to decorate their surfaces with messages; the public outpouring of adulation becoming graffiti defacement of monuments no longer valued.

Ryan Johnson
Sentinel (Please Hold), 2008
Casting tape, rebar, plywood, cement, plastic, spray paint, glass, aluminium, enamel paint
348 x 299.7 x 182.9 cm

Through his playful use of materials, Johnson’s work creates a theatrical tension between ‘stuff’ and its implied function: clock faces stand in for people faces, bandages become noblesse armour, and steel rods protrude painfully as arms and legs; his battered crafty aesthetic giving all the appearance of the walking wounded. Sentinel (Please Hold) sculpts a cruel picture of ineffectuality and obsolescence. Comically rendered with the tell-tale ravages of age, Johnson’s veteran teeters on peg-leg and gout foot, his guts blown out, and arm replaced by a fishing rod-like prosthetic. Relegated to desk duty, even answering the phone becomes a mission impossible, his body covered by hundreds of unanswered messages.

Ryan Johnson
Watchman, 2008
Casting tape, glass, plywood, cement, plastic, cardboard, spray paint, enamel paint, aluminium, keys, fabric, rubber
213.4 x 91.4 x 55.9 cm

Using fiction as a departure point into making, this series of Ryan Johnson’s work revolves around the literary archetype of the Watchman: the ever-lurking ghostly observer, lonesome figure of security and  surveillance. Occupying an uneasy space between dreamscape and the material world, Johnson’s figure is a haunting effigy, a character reduced to the tools of his trade. With cog-like guts formed from giant key rings and a distorted clock for a face, he’s more machine than man, wearied from unwavering routine, anchored to his post in a bucket of cement.


Thursday, 26 November 2020: COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS UPDATE:

Following the UK Government’s latest announcement placing London in Tier 2, Saatchi Gallery will re-open from Wednesday, 9 December 2020. We will re-open with our free entry Ground Floor exhibitions (Philip Colbert: Lobsteropolis and Antisocial Isolation) from December 9. The new dates for our next headline exhibition JR: Chronicles will be announced shortly.

Government guidelines on health and safety measures will remain in effect, including social distancing within a one-way system in our galleries, the provision of hand sanitising stations, and the wearing of face coverings by visitors and staff. All visitors are encouraged to pre-book their tickets prior to entry.

We look forward to welcoming you back soon.