Contributions to the AICCM National Conference 2013, Adelaide 23-25 October


Three paintings by Michael Johnson, Frontal 2 1968, Night 1968, and Matthew’s cavern 1974, are representative of the artist’s work in acrylic and vinyl emulsion paints during the late 1960s to early 1970s. They incorporate broad colour areas of highly pigmented paint with matt surfaces and multilayered paint films.

The matt surfaces of the paintings are extremely fragile. Accidental contact has caused abrasions and scuffs to all the paintings. Frontal 2 1968 had additionally been scratched with a pencil. Matthew’s cavern 1974 has been retouched with poor matching of the original matt surface. All these small damages were visually disturbing due to the flat and even surfaces of the paints.

This paper describes the complex multidisciplinary research required to undertake appropriate and successful conservation treatments on vulnerable and ageing synthetic paint mediums. This includes several interviews with the artist and the comparison of the artist’s recollection of his paint mediums against instrumental analysis.

The retouching of the damages on the paintings was undertaken with Aquazol 500®, Poly (2- ethyl-2-oxaline), and pigments. The treatment required finding a balance between minimal retouching, while reducing broad areas of surface disturbance.


Michael Johnson; painting; contemporary; synthetic polymer paint; aquazol 500®; Art Gallery of New South Wales

AICCM National Conference 2013
Paper author:
Céline de Courlon, Simon Ives and Paula Dredge