Alexander Johnson studio

Meet the Artist : Alexander Johnson

Fresh from his recent showing in the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017 exhibition in Bath in March 2018, we met with Alexander Johnson to learn more about his life as an artist, the evolution of his work into abstract form and his aversion to the slick digital images that encroach on modern-day life…


Alexander grew up in a rural setting in West Sussex, just outside Chichester in the 1960’s and 70’s. His formative years were spent in the shadow of the South Downs walking and cycling around with complete freedom. After finishing Art College in Cardiff, he spent the bulk of his adult life living in cities including London, Barcelona, Nijmegen and Brighton. But in 2015 he returned to the countryside where he grew up and rekindled his fond childhood memories of the old farm buildings and trees that were his playground as a child.


His work, even when abstracted, has always been about storytelling; setting down his own experiences and feelings, and and combining them with contemporary themes. Buildings, trees and pictorial elements climb into the canvasses to make their home amongst the abstract images. His work is a collage, combining memories from his youth with his new surroundings, as if time is elastic and the past can co-exist with the present. He aims to offer an antidote to the digitised age, asking us to relish the touch only a human can bring to a canvas and consider our own history and impact on the earth upon which we dwell.



Strong, enquiring, risk-taking, dynamic, truthful.



My eureka moment was in Antibes, in the South of France in 1975 when I was eleven. It was the first time we had been abroad as a family, my first time on a plane. We were camping under the Scots Pines and the intoxication I felt from the language, smells and food of France are clearly punctuated by a memory of standing on the stairs in the Picasso Museum looking up at his sculpture of a bull’s head made from a bicycle saddle with handlebars for the horns. It was a lightning bolt moment for me and I knew from then onwards that I wanted to be an artist.



I don’t wait for inspiration, I’m in the studio every day so new ideas surface during the working process and I develop them. I have kept daily sketchbooks for the last 35 years and this ongoing sketching and processing of ideas informs the larger work. Certain enduring interests influence me such as the contours from aerial reconnaissance photos that my father took in the war, which still thread their way through the work.


Contemporary artists need to be working outside of themselves to engage me, so artists like Rachel Whiteread, Jeremy Deller and Cornelia Parker are favourites.


In terms of art-history: Matisse and Picasso of course, also Philip Guston, Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Goya, Rembrandt, Hepworth, Sandra Blow. Early on I became interested in Dada and Surrealism through punk graphics (Jamie Reid and Linder Sterling referenced Dada in their work).


Graphic designers like Barney Bubbles, Peter Saville and specific LP record covers are still a big influence. I play records in the studio as I paint, so for example, A Love Supreme by John Coltrane or the Clash’s first LP are a constant presence and must influence my thinking. I occasionally look at one of my paintings and realise it reminds me of a record cover, or that the particular colour I’m using corresponds exactly with a colour from one of them (I recently had that with a teal-blue I was using, I checked and it was exactly the same hue as The Sweetest Girl cover by Scritti Politti).



I don’t know what my work says about me, it’s not really about me, it’s about history; the palimpsest of human life and tracks on the earth’s surface, the scars left by humankind on the earth. That in turn relates back to my father’s experiences as a reconnaissance photographer in the second world war. I may have an impetus to make work on that specific subject, but whether or not people pick up on it, or whether they just like the shapes and colours in the paintings I couldn’t say.


Ultimately art, like music, is instinctive and when people are choosing work to buy, I encourage them to listen to their gut instinct rather than their intellectual choice. Having said that, I’m not trying to make paintings that just look pretty, I am aiming for something that looks strong, that has a good underlying structure and has some truth. I don’t want them to be just wallpaper, it’s important to have a clear voice, a subliminal message perhaps.



I don’t tend to work in a rhythmic or formulaic pattern like that. I like to experiment so I find it best to approach each day afresh. I agree with Picasso’s quote that ‘inspiration exists, but it has to find you working‘. That is my experience too. I’m in the studio every day and I get bored easily, so I’m constantly looking for ways to keep myself entertained while I make my work.


I make oil paintings, but also original prints, etchings, silkscreens and lithographs and ideas surface during these processes. I go to a print studio in Brighton to make the etchings and it’s good to rub shoulders with other artists – most of the time I’m working alone in my studio in the countryside.


Knowing when a painting is finished is the most difficult part of the process, although I find it easier to make good choices as I get older. I used to be tempted to tidy up images or show off my technical skills, but you can kill the vitality of a piece with just a couple of strokes too many, so I’m cautious now to leave the rough edges, that’s where the energy lies and that’s the truth of humanity – rough edges.


My aim is to produce an antidote to the slick digital images that surround us on screens everywhere. I like paintings with fingerprints and brush marks that have been made by a human being rather than a computer programme. The early ‘modern artists’ (Cezanne, Matisse, Degas) were right to find a new way to express themselves when photography became popular in the 1800’s – I hope I’m continuing in that tradition.



I’ve been making art for nearly forty years and I’ve only just worked out what I’m doing.



Posted on: July 5, 2018
Modern ArtBuyer Open House June 2018

Our busiest Open House ever!

A huge thank you to everyone who came along to our most successful ever Open House earlier this month. It was a wonderful, sunny weekend – we loved seeing you all and meeting lots of new faces!


We had a beautiful selection of artwork on show including limited edition prints, paintings on canvas, works on paper and digital works from Bonnie and Clyde, Mark Jessett, Plum Neasmith and Jane Emberson amongst others. We really value being able to catch up with you all and it was lovely to spend time drinking coffee and the odd glass of prosecco, talking all things art!


Giving you the chance to view and buy leading, contemporary art in a simple, friendly environment is ultimately what we do. We choose artists who are both creatively and technically exceptional, and respected in their field or graduates who show considerable promise, giving you the opportunity to collect work by some of the world’s most talented artists. By the end of the weekend we learned that over half our visitors were new to Modern ArtBuyer so we’re thrilled to be introducing our artists to even more art lovers.


Thank you again and we’ll keep you posted with future Open House dates.

Posted on: June 21, 2018
Modern ArtBuyer Open House exhibition 2018

Visit our Open House Pop-up Gallery near Bath, 2-3 June

We are throwing open our doors in Limpley Stoke near Bath once again and hosting our bi-annual Open House in the summer sunshine (fingers crossed)! Join us and view a carefully curated selection of contemporary artworks, including limited edition prints, paintings on canvas, works on paper and digital works.


Offering a unique opportunity to view works available for sale in a home setting and providing inspiration for displaying works large or small, as part of a collection or as standalone pieces, we are on hand all weekend to answer any questions about our artists, art-collecting or queries about pieces in your own collection.


We will have an exciting selection of works on show (alongside a beautiful selection of handmade silver jewellery) including: limited edition prints from much sought-after artist Maria Rivans, urban prints and collages by Bonnie and Clyde, graphic monoprints by Paul Minott, Elaine Jones’ captivating abstract landscape paintings, large paintings by Jane Emberson and Paul Bennett, burnt-paper works by Kelly O’Brien and vibrant digital works by Chuck Elliott, amongst many others.


Bringing together local artists alongside more from across the UK, we will be showing a collection of affordable pieces representing the best of Modern ArtBuyer’s portfolio and would love you to join us to peruse your favourites! Come along, view, browse, have a coffee or even raise a sneaky glass of prosecco…


Sylvan Lodge, 1 Cliffe Drive, Limpley Stoke, Bath BA2 7FY


Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd June, 10am – 5:30pm

Posted on: May 10, 2018

Can one size fit all?

Displaying art in big and small spaces

Reason number one for buying any work of art should always be because you love it. Speaking on behalf of gallerists and artists, we want people to buy art purely because they have developed a real connection with a piece and, in an ideal world, art would be bought entirely out of love and not influenced by practicality. But let’s be realistic – we all need to live in comfortable, functional homes, which come in all different shapes and sizes, so practicality often comes into play and can creep into the decision-making process.


However we don’t believe being practical means you have to limit your choices – we offer up our advice on how to display art whether you have room to spare or your space is small but perfectly formed…


Look up!

If you are short on space, a great way to give the illusion of more is to accentuate the sense of height in your home. Displaying a collection of smaller artworks above eye level draws the eye up and a vertical gallery hang can suggest a higher ceiling – Jane Emberson’s works on paper would be brilliant for this, adding a flash of colour in a compact space.


Alternatively, placing a quirky piece above a door or within a set of shelves, something like Jaco Putker’s eccentric etchings, to catch the eye and draw the onlooker in, is a clever way of adding a sense of depth and extra space to a room.


Make a bold statement

Do you have the space to display one very large piece and go for maximum drama? Going with one single statement piece can help bring the whole room into proportion and balance the space. Be brave and opt for punchy colours and strong forms if you have a clean space to fill – something along the lines of Chuck Elliott’s digital works would create a real impact. Although that’s not to say bold has to be bright though – Kelly O’Brien’s paper works would be just as striking with their muted palette. If you do fall in love with the idea of a large piece and find the perfect artwork, hang it in plenty of space and keep the rest of the room minimal.


Anchoring your room with a statement piece creates a great focal point. It’s not impossible to do this in a smaller space too, as long as there is enough surrounding space for the piece to breathe and it doesn’t dominate. Art should help us create a harmonious and elegant living environment not overwhelm!


Multiply it…

An alternative to one large piece is to create the same drama using a cluster of smaller works, drawings and studies. These clusters can be extremely effective in both large and small spaces. The key is to have some kind of unifying theme, be that one consistent colour in all pieces or maybe a similar subject matter.


Keep the frames and styles varied and throw in a few unusual pieces like mirrors, plates, maps or postcards – anything that will demonstrate your personality and individuality. And don’t feel these works have to limited to prints and paper works – Plum Neasmith’s smaller paintings, for example, would bring great depth and texture to a salon hang.


At the end of the day we will always advise you to buy the art you love – be the work large or small, and your home stately or bijoux, your choice will bring atmosphere, character and meaning to the space and ultimately help make it your home.

Posted on: April 24, 2018

Spring Pop-up Gallery, Bath, 26th February – 11th March

We’re leaping into Spring with a vibrant pop-up gallery in the centre of Bath. What could be better than seeing some of our amazing artworks in person then enjoying the social buzz of cafes and shops in Milsom Place?


We’ll be showing a selection of exceptional paintings and prints from our represented artists including Maria Rivans, Bonnie and Clyde, Trudy Montgomery, Paul Minott, Paul Bennett, Jane Emberson, Chuck Elliott, Kelly O’Brien and Emma Cowlam to name a few.


23 Milsom Place, Milsom Street & Broad Street, Bath BA1 1BZ
Right next to Carluccio’s Deli


Monday 26th February until Sunday 11th March
Open every day
Monday – Saturday : 10am – 6pm
Sunday : 11am – 4pm


Whether you are interested in an affordable splash of colour, an investment piece or just a browse, please pop in!


PLEASE NOTE: Due to the severe weather conditions, we’re sorry to say the pop-up will be closed on Friday 2nd March. We’re hoping to be open again from Saturday 3rd March but will post updates onto social media @modernartbuyer. Apologies for any inconvenience and we hope to see you soon!

Posted on: February 1, 2018
Playing With Fire No. 53 (Edgy 7) by Kelly O’Brien for Modern ArtBuyer

Introducing Kelly O’Brien

We’re delighted to welcome Kelly O’Brien to Modern ArtBuyer. Kelly is an American mixed media artist who lives and works near Bath. Kelly is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Art at Bath Spa University with an expected degree award in 2019.


Kelly O’Brien has a clear and evident passion for her work, which gives her an exceptional drive to push boundaries and ask questions. We were immediately struck by the refinement and sensitivity of Kelly’s works which explore the volatile relationship between paper and fire, and the unexpectedly beautiful outcomes of combining the two. In her ‘Playing With Fire’ series, Kelly delves deeper into this relationship introducing additional elements : thread, gold leaf, spray paint.


You can see and read more about this series here.


Posted on: January 25, 2018
Ice Cream Plaza by Bonnie and Clyde for Modern ArtBuyer

Pop into our Open House Pop-up Gallery near Bath, 25-26 November

On 25th and 26th November we’re opening our doors once again for our Open House Pop-up Gallery in Limpley Stoke just outside Bath. We’ve curated a selection of artworks from our impressive artists including Bonnie and Clyde, Maria Rivans, Dion Salvador Lloyd, Jane Emberson, Mark Stopforth, Plum Neasmith, Paul Minott and Jonathan Barber amongst many others, offering a great range of styles and prices.


Sylvan Lodge, 1 Cliffe Drive,
Limpley Stoke, Bath BA2 7FY


Saturday 25th November : 10am – 5:30pm
Sunday 26th November : 10am – 5:30pm


Whether you are interested in just browsing or looking to buy, please pop in for a glass of prosecco or a coffee, and please feel free to bring friends along!

Posted on: November 8, 2017
Oceanid AAF

Visit us at Battersea Affordable Art Fair, 18-22 October!

London here we come! The Affordable Art Fair Battersea is just around the corner so as always we’re curating an impressive showcase of artists to exhibit at the fair. We’re showing work by Jane Emberson, Emma Cowlam, Plum Neasmith, Paul Minott and Rebecca King as well as three of our newer artists Jonathan Barber, Caroline Hall and Mark Stopforth.


The fair is on 18th-22th October and, as always, we have a number of free tickets to give away, so please drop us an email if you’d like to come along. We’d love to see you and look forward to catching up with many of our art fair regulars, who make our time there so enjoyable!

Posted on: October 5, 2017
Modern ArtBuyer at Affordable Art Fair Bristol 2017

Creating a buzz in Bristol

Thank you to everyone who popped along to see us at the Affordable Art Fair Bristol in September. It was wonderful to see so many of our valued customers and friends there, as well as to meet so many new customers and art lovers. We hope you enjoyed the buzz and fun of the fair as much as we did and we’ll be back in 2018.


Affordable Art Fair Battersea, 18th – 22nd October is just around the corner so stay tuned for updates on our complimentary tickets.

Posted on: September 21, 2017

Visit us at Bristol Affordable Art Fair, 7-10 September!

Our latest newsletter gives a sneak preview of some of the fantastic artists we’ll be showing at the Bristol Affordable Art Fair, Temple Meads Bristol, 7 – 10 September. For more details on our exciting portfolio of exhibiting artists and to find out how you can get complimentary tickets to the fair, please read all about it here.


Posted on: July 25, 2017

Visit our Open House pop-up gallery in Bath, 13-14 May

We’re thrilled to be holding our third Open House Pop-up Gallery in Limpley Stoke, Bath.


The pop-up gallery will showcase an exceptional, vibrant collection of contemporary works by artists from across the UK. In addition, we will also be showing a selection of beautiful hand-made jewellery and some exquisite lamps cast in bronze.


Visitors to previous Modern ArtBuyer Open Houses found it inspiring to see our artworks in a home setting. It helps them to visualise how a work of art may look in their own home.


Sylvan Lodge, 1 Cliffe Drive,
Limpley Stoke, Bath BA2 7FY


Saturday 13th May : 10am – 5:30pm
Sunday 14th Nov : 10am – 5:30pm


The Open House coincides with the fifth anniversary of the launch of Modern ArtBuyer so please pop in for a glass of prosecco or a coffee and a browse!

Posted on: April 11, 2017
Northern Edge III by Mark Stopforth for Modern ArtBuyer

The toast of Oxford

We’re proud to see Modern ArtBuyer artist, Mark Stopforth, shortlisted for TOAST’S National finals. As part of their ‘Works of the Heart’ project, 11 artworks have been selected to hang in the windows of 11 of their stores with Mark’s ‘Northern Edge III’ (shown above) chosen to adorn the window of their Oxford branch. If you’re in the area do pop along to see the spectacular piece in person.


Click here for more information on TOAST’s project.


Posted on: February 1, 2017

Open House pop-up gallery in Bath, 26-27 November

Just in time for Christmas, we’re delighted to be hosting our second Open House Pop-up Gallery in Limpley Stoke, Bath.


We’ll be showcasing an inspiring collection of established and emerging artists from across the UK, with many new additions to our previous Open House portfolio. Works for sale include original paintings, limited edition prints and digital art, and this time we will also be showing a selection of  beautiful hand-made jewellery and hand-painted silk scarves, from UK-based, art-led craftsmen.


Sylvan Lodge, 1 Cliffe Drive,
Limpley Stoke, Bath BA2 7FY


Saturday 26th Nov : 10am – 5pm
Sunday 27th Nov : 10am – 5pm


Whether you are on the hunt for Christmas presents or pieces for your own home, please pop in.
We’d love to see you!

Posted on: November 7, 2016

Ticket offer for Affordable Art Fair Battersea, 19-23 October

If you’re planning to head to the Affordable Art Fair Battersea but haven’t yet organised your tickets, we are pleased to offer you unlimited half price tickets, valid on any day, excluding the Private View (each digital code admits one).


To redeem your half price ticket, you simply need to follow these step-by-step instructions:


– Visit the Affordable Art Fair ticket shop by clicking here. Click on the ‘Find Tickets’ button next to the date you wish to attend.


– Enter the digital code MODERNHP and click the ‘Use Code’ button for the discount to register.


– Select the quantity of tickets you would like and click on ‘Buy Tickets’. Fill in your contact details and click on ‘Buy Tickets’ again.


You will then be taken to the confirmation page and a printable e-ticket will be emailed to you. We look forward to seeing you at there!

Posted on: October 6, 2016
Art Lovers Guide in The Bath Magazine

The Art Lover’s Guide 2016 : The Bath Magazine

We’re delighted to see that our article on art as an investment has been published in The Bath Magazine (p49) and you can read more about our gallery and art consultancy on p56.


Click here to read the articles.

Posted on: October 5, 2016

Visit us at the Affordable Art Fair Battersea, 19-23 October

We’re heading back to the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea and we couldn’t be more excited!


We’ll be showing sensational new work by Modern ArtBuyer artists including Emma Cowlam, Jane Emberson, Rebecca King, Paul Minott, Plum Neasmith, Ione Parkin RWA and Juliette Paull. We’re really looking forward to seeing many of our loyal customers and art fair regulars, as well as sharing our love of art with lots of other visitors to the fair.


If you’d like complimentary tickets for the fair, we have a limited number to give away on a first come first served basis, so please drop us a line with your postal address and we’ll send one out to you. We look forward to seeing you there!

Posted on: September 26, 2016
Rounding Up (June) 2 (small) by Sara Dudman RWA for Modern ArtBuyer

Outstanding additions to our portfolio

Our ethos at Modern ArtBuyer is to bring together exceptional art and passionate collectors, so with that in mind we’re excited to have unveiled our latest collaboration.


We’re working closely with the experienced and reputable team at One Church Street Gallery, offering them exposure on our website as a new channel to showcase their well-curated portfolio of artists. We’ve kicked off with the beautifully-observed paintings by Sara Dudman RWA, the collaborative, intriguing abstracts from Robinson & McMahon and the technical brilliance of Ian Robinson. Their work is now available to browse and buy directly through our website and, as always, viewings can be arranged with pleasure.


It’s an inspiring venture for us. We hope you are equally inspired by their exceptional works.

Posted on: September 16, 2016

Thank you, Bristol!

Our first Affordable Art Fair in your wonderful city was a blast. We met so many passionate art collectors and plenty of visitors who were new to the art world too, and we had some incredible feedback on our artists. To all of those of you who bought from our gallery, thank you for falling in love with our artists’ work and we hope you have found the perfect spot for your new artwork.


We will be back, so watch this space. Until next time…

Posted on: September 15, 2016

Heading to Affordable Art Fairs in Bristol and Battersea

We’re excited to be taking exhibition stands at the following forthcoming art fairs:


8-11 September 2016 : Affordable Art Fair Bristol
19-23 October 2016 : Affordable Art Fair Battersea, London


We’ll be showing work by Modern ArtBuyer artists including Jane Emberson, Ione Parkin RWA, Paul Minott, Plum Neasmith, Rebecca King, Maria Rivans, Juliette Paull, Julia Wilson and Emma Cowlam. We’re really looking forward to seeing many of our loyal customers and to meeting other art lovers at the fairs.


If you’d like complimentary tickets for either fair, we have a limited number to give away on a first come first served basis. Just drop us a line if you’d like us to pop one in the post to you. We hope to see you there!

Posted on: August 8, 2016
Modern ArtBuyer newsletter featuring Paul Minott

Catch up on the latest news

Our latest newsletter, which talks about our forthcoming art fairs in Bristol and Battersea, is now available.


Click here to read it online!

Posted on:

Plum Neasmith adorns the walls of the Royal Academy

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is always firmly in our calendar each year. It can be a mixed bag but it’s a great barometer for current trends and artist practices. And we’ve heard good things about this year’s show co-ordinated by Richard Wilson RA who describes it as “unpredictable, stimulating and startling”.


So we’re delighted that Modern ArtBuyer artist Plum Neasmith has had two paintings accepted into this year’s show. Both paintings have already sold and we have sold more of her work subsequently – recognition of her integrity and quality. We’ll be taking her work to Affordable Art Fairs later in the year, so look out for updates.


Our congratulations to Plum!

Posted on: July 7, 2016

Making a splash in Bath

Art plays a vital role in the feel of a home. The perfectly chosen artwork can bring a room to life and adds gravitas to a beautiful interior. That is why we love working with carefully selected interior designers, such as our friends at Woodhouse and Law in Bath, helping them and their clients to find the right art for their space.


To mark our ongoing collaboration with Woodhouse and Law, we have installed a painting by one of our talented artists – Jane Emberson – in their elegant window on Bathwick Hill. Please pop in and see them if you’d like to see the work in person.

Posted on: July 6, 2016

There’s still time to catch us at our London pop-up

We’re loving our time in London’s buzzing Whitecross Street. Our pop-up gallery, hosted in collaboration with our friends at Liberty Gallery, runs until Saturday 11 June so you still have time to pop along and see the artwork. We’re showing pieces by exciting artists including Maria Rivans, Bonnie & Clyde, Chuck Elliott, Rebecca King, Jane Emberson, Emma Cowlam and Paul Minott.


Curious Duke Gallery, 173 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8JT


Until 11 June
11am – 6pm weekdays, 12 – 4pm Saturday

We hope to see you there!


Posted on: June 7, 2016

PopPop : London pop-up gallery, 31 May – 11 June

London here we come! We’re heading to the capital next week to host ‘PopPop’, our London pop-up, in collaboration with the wonderful Liberty Gallery.


The two galleries will be showing an inspiring selection of contemporary paintings, collages, prints and digital works from artists including Maria Rivans, Bonnie & Clyde, Chuck Elliott, Dan Hillier, Rebecca King and Magnus Gjoen. Please pop along to see us. We’d love to see you!


Curious Duke Gallery, 173 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8JT


31st May – 11 June
11am – 6pm weekdays, 12 – 4pm Saturdays, closed Sundays

Private View:
Thursday 2nd June, 5:30 – 8:30pm

Posted on: May 26, 2016