One of five books Islanders should read:
From Robert Amos (extracted from Introduction)
I just can’t resist writing to you right away and saying the book is a complete success!
To see my name on the cover was unexpected. I've had my name on the cover of a few books, but this one make is a true honour. To be associated with Jan means a lot to me.
I thought I knew all about your book, but as I sat and read, and looked at the photos, I was bowled over.
All unbidden I found myself laughing out loud many times as I turned the pages and came across his insights.
Page’s photography gives me a better view of the work than I have ever had in person - close up, well lit, brilliantly (and concisely) annotated by Mija, and in a format where I had time to linger and consider. And the layout is a model of its kind. Every bit of effort put into this book serves the purpose effectively and efficiently.
Heaven knows if the world will stop for even a second to discover this volume, and the little gnarly iron bits, but you have done the man proud. He'd probably be blushing behind that formidable moustache. I know that he didn't do this sculpture for fame, but was driven to it by an irresistible need to give form to his thoughts. The combination of words and pictures underline more forcefully than ever that he is a man for our times, and all times.
As I said, it is an honour to be associated with Jan Johnson.
Fran Willis (owner of Fran Willis Gallery to 2011)
Irony in Steel is a rich tribute to an exceptional individual and artist, giving insights into the man himself and documenting the inspired works that are his legacy. Jan Johnson, through his life experience and active enquiring mind, created sculpture that reflected his ironic take on the human condition. He rarely explained his work, just led the viewers, with a short title, to find their own way and reach their own conclusion.
The book gives a further glimpse into what inspired the pieces, be it literal or allegorical, from myth, history, world events or life's experiences. Engaging text and exceptional photographs communicate so effectively that we can almost hear Jan's signature infectious chuckle in the background. It is my honour to have known Jan and to have exhibited his work in my gallery. — Fran Willis, 2016
Pete Rockwell extracted from essay,
He’d wander the backyard looking for the right stuff from his materials stash and take it into the studio and fire up his torch. What better material than burnt steel to show a kind of existential truth revealed when you strip away the matrix of delusions and lies that surround us.
While Jan Johnson had serious things to say about the power dynamics of our society, there was always a kind of subtext of ironic humour underlying his seriousness. The humour of a skeptic, a hidden joke. And he expressed it in a way that always made you feel like you were included in a very exclusive and esoteric conspiracy. He had a kind of knowing “heh heh heh” if you said something that amused him, effectively including you in a brotherhood of jaundiced minds. If he was really amused, he would slip into a cigarette-inflected “hee hee hee.” I thought of him as the Kurt Vonnegut of metal sculptors. I think of him that way now.
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