1961    “There is no overt sentimentality about Ewart Johns.  He has the earthy quality of many Welsh painters, more involved with the reality of the female body than women in the romantic abstract.  His most successful paintings are the series of Reclining Nudes, beautifully painted in light Turneresque colours and conllcerned with the play of light on the flesh.”

Charles S Spencer,  The Art Review, 1961.


1978    “Ewart Johns’ paintings and drawings reveal his mastery of telling design.  He has an alert eye for the contemporary scene, with the illusory effects created by shining car bonnets and roofs, reflective windscreens and windows.

Many visitors will look twice, and even three times, at some of his paintings before identifying the elements that make up the design.  They will end up appreciating how little we look at most of the objects we encounter, and what fascinating games we might play if we ever used our eyes.”

W.T.O.  The Yorkshire Post, 1978


1990    “Ewart Johns has experimented in a variety of ways with the human form.  In his early paintings the body was transformed into elements of landscape.  In these paintings, pastels and watercolours it becomes the focal point of a unified abstract design.  The form, always female, is disintegrated and dispersed and as Johns forces us to reconstitute it for ourselves we come to share his preoccupation and pleasure.

Johns composes in both form and colour, and the contrasts between ornate and plain areas is reminiscent of Matisse.  He appears to enjoy throwing in divergent shapes, then finding a way to unify them.  With the pastels and oils a firmer outline defines the human form with economy and skill.  His favourite pose is of a woman peering out between her arms, but because it is recreated in a number of ways, it doesn’t appear to repeat itself.

Johns is capable of considerable delicacy of effect.  In the watercolours areas of flat colour wash are separated by the fine lines of the white ground.  These are delicate complementary colours that also adhere together as shapes, adding up to a multi-faceted complex, as with a cut stone.  The white of the paper is often left as a highlight or focus.  Shapes are abstractions in their own right while remaining a part of their setting, so that each of these women appears at one with the beaches, sun and sea that also serves to define her.”

Andrew Hoellering, The Guardian 1990     (On Figure and Beaches exhibition, Saltram House, Plymouth, July 5th 1990)


2001    “Most particularly, however, it is an award that has been promoted by Dartington College of Arts, in recognition for a life of distinguished achievements by a remarkable visual artist.  The College salutes his life-work and the living mind behind it.”

Edward Cowie, on Ewart’s investiture with an honorary doctorate of Arts, 2001

“Many of the late figurative works (especially those executed in watercolour), seem to represent a kind of idealised woman – almost as an ancient goddess would be portrayed.  These women are often ‘ageless’ though always seemingly wise and meditative.  In a strange way, they appear as neither ‘mother’ nor ‘lover’.  They live in a world of introspective calm, looking at us from within an orb sometimes framed by a large hat and/or clothed in exotic dresses (costumes).  Like many of Klimt’s paintings of women, there is as much energy and excitement in the designs of the clothes and the patterns of drapes and curtains as there is in the form of the figure itself.”

Edward Cowie, Dartington College of Arts, 2001


2007    “It was a chance meeting with Margaret Johns and Jean Rose at a Peninsula Arts private view in late October 2005, which led to the concept of providing a suitable retrospective exhibition that would celebrate the considerable artistic output and achievements of Ewart Johns.  The sheer scale and variety of his work only became apparent to me upon the first few visits to the very aptly named Gallery House at South Brent.  There in the company of his wife Margaret and their archivist Diana Gower, began for me a journey of discovery …”

Mike Hope, on the Jan 2007 retrospective at the University of Plymouth