Rooftop balcony with doors to penthouseRooftop balcony with doors to penthouse

The Johnson Brisbane

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The Johnson Brisbane

Michael Johnson

Artist Michael Johnson wears a blue shirt and sits in his art studio

"Probably the strongest influence that brought about the metaphor of water, darkness and skies was the mystery of fishing at Lobster Beach at Broken Bay."

Michael Johnson grew up surrounded by art; both his parents were painters and there were framed prints of Vermeer and Albert Pinkham Ryder hanging on the walls of his childhood home in Mosman. Leaving school at fourteen he worked at the Lintas agency, rambled around rural NSW on painting trips with close friend Brett Whiteley and studied at the Julian Ashton Art School and the National Art School in Sydney.

In 1960, he decided to travel and departed by ship passing through Egypt, Greece and Italy on route to London. He met Whiteley in Florence and together they decided to travel to Bologna to visit the studio of the Italian still-life painter Giorgio Morandi. When he eventually arrived in London he spent the next seven years painting full time while also working as a studio assistant to the British sculptors Brian Wall and Anthony Caro.

Living in London, he immersed himself in the art world, meeting Francis Bacon, David Hockney, and Oskar Kokoschka. Unlike other Australian artists who found international success through figurative and semi-abstracted landscape, Johnson's European experience distilled his love of colour, space, and form into highly abstract works. Returning to Sydney in 1967, he contributed to a generational shift towards minimal geometric abstraction.

Mixing his own pigments and stretching his own frames, his minimal works eliminated recognisable imagery in favour of abstraction. Inspired by Italian painters, Brancusi's forms, Albers's drama, and Matisse's colour, his work was a uniquely Australian interpretation of a global shift away from representation.

Many of Johnson's large nocturnal and oceanic blue works evoke a personal memory of staring through the seawater on a dark night and marvelling at the phosphorescence and the bioluminescence of the organisms swimming in the sea.

Moving to New York in 1970, his work gradually embraced more texture and a palette identifiable with a ‘bush spectrum’. Interested in nature's diversity, he drew inspiration from various sources, including bird feathers, metallic colours, and natural patterns. Colour and light remained lifelong preoccupations, influencing every major shift in his work.

Buy Michael Johnson's Artwork


A hotel bed with yellow and red pillows and an artwork above the bed
A hotel apartment with a kitchen bench and a blue and red painting
An abstract painting in red, purple, and blue hues
Abstract artwork with maroon, orange, and green brushstrokes
A blue painting with dashes of yellow and red
A painting of earth-coloured circles over a light blue background
An art piece with red, orange, purple and green horizontal strips
An abstract art piece in beige and light green colours
Abstract painting in different shades of blue
Multi-coloured brushstrokes on a painting

The Johnson Brisbane

An outdoor rooftop entertaining area with lounge and bar seating
Set in Spring Hill on the doorstep of Brisbane’s vibrant CBD, The Johnson hotel takes its design cues from celebrated Australian abstract artist, Michael Johnson.

This luxury boutique hotel hosts a myriad of features including 97 self-contained, open-plan suites including and two elegant penthouses, a 50-metre pool with a sundeck, a gymnasium, plus conference and events facilities. The guest experience is further complimented with lashings of Johnson artworks, in-house art libraries and a dedicated art channel.

Discover The Johnson Brisbane