World Panorama Series

A panoramic view of the skyscrapers of Hong Kong and its harbour

Hong Kong Panorama (Hong Kong, Energetic and Communicative), 1997
© Ben Johnson 2008. All Rights Reserved DACS.

Ben Johnson had painted individual buildings and parts of buildings for three decades. In 1994, he became interested in whole cities as subject matter, since cities embodied the people that built them and worked and lived in them.

Discussions about the commissioning of Johnson's painting The Rookery, Chicago became the catalyst for his world cities project. The series comprises 6 paintings to date. Some of these are large city panoramas. Others, like Chicago, focus on single buildings that symbolise the image of the city they represent.

The technical challenges of painting such complex cityscapes are immense and Johnson has come to depend upon a team of skilled studio assistants.

People are absent from these paintings which present still, idealised cities. For that reason, the artist has come to feel that they should be seen in the public domain, where people can be 'put back into the paintings' through the viewers' responses, memories and stories.

The world cities series is brought together here for the first time to celebrate the launch of The Liverpool Cityscape, Johnson's most recent addition to the project.