John Bonner


Born in England, I was educated at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London. I came to America do my graduate work, and stayed. Since then I have made a living a creative director, designer and artist in television, video, animation, interactive media, and fine art.


The discovery of the cave paintings in Chauvet, France, and their astonishing sophistication, reinforces the idea that art doesn’t progress as much as records the amazement of humans at their surroundings at any particular time. Something in the structure of brains (and a huge part of the brain is allocated to visual processing) delights in the play of line, color, and form, and reconstructing sensoria into recognisable images. Our brains have not changed appreciably since then. Close up, all paintings are abstract, step back, and the brain loves to impose a pattern. It’s the rhythm of the process of creating a painting itself. Lean in, step back. The thrill of recognition.


There is also something shamanistic going on, particularly in the communal activity of an exhibition, a sharing of the transcendent in everyday life. Look! Everything we see, worn thin by thousands of eyes, is extraordinary, from the humble clapboarded house with the satellite dish, to the endless pulse of commuters hurrying to jobs in the rain.


I see all artists as working in traditions, even the most outrageous. The tradition I like to think I belong to has its roots in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century representational art, just on the cusp of modernism and being heavily influenced by it, but still not quite wanting to drop the discipline of the Academy. This is painting that is emphatically concerned with the real world and how to record it, by artists like: Robert Henri, Walter Sickert, Rockwell Kent, Tom Thomson, and George Bellows.




John has spent the last twenty years designing and making literally hundreds of animations, interfaces and presentations, mostly in the educational space, for clients like Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, and Scholastic.



Before that he was Creative Director at JuniorNet, Boston, and a TV producer for The Children’s Channel in the UK. He has an MFA from Syracuse University, and a BA in Graphic Design from Central Saint Martins in London. He has won several awards for his work. He occasionally makes films about cycling.

Coastal Contemporary Gallery
491 Thames Street, Newport RI 02840  401.612.6121

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