Mary Ellen Johnson: Big Choclate Eclair, 2012

Work / Art

Mary Ellen Johnson’s paintings are a syrupy drip of hyper-reality

Observe, reader, the hyper-realistic inscrutability of Mary Ellen Johnson’s paintings. Her vast canvases study a panoply of culinary delights; cakes, sundaes, splits (“death food” I heard someone mutter), all depicted at the apogee of their desirability. They will never look as good or taste as good at any other moment, ever. Just so this clumsy reference to the ephemerality of youth and beauty doesn’t go un-flogged, I’ll continue: The gleaming perfection of hot fudge sauce turns all other food stuffs to dust – peerless eclair! Immaculate banana! These are unattainable, fetishistic almost, portraits that reflect with all sincerity on our weird emotional attachment to food beyond just being hungry. For Johnson, the “cherry on top” is not just a metaphor.


Mary Ellen Johnson: Big Banana Split, 2011


Mary Ellen Johnson: Sticky Bun, 2011


Mary Ellen Johnson: Big Smores, 2010