abstract art, a systems view

Archive for January 2013

Geoff Jones at D H Lawrence Heritage Cente

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My friend Geoff Jones has a solo exhibition at The D H Lawrence Heritage Centre, (winner of the Best Visitor Attraction in Nottinghamshire Award 2012). I helped him hang the paintings last week and I did a short piece of writing for him to use, much of which I reproduce here.

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Looking at the images in this exhibition, mostly paintings, it’s surely no surprise that Geoff started his artistic career as a printmaker. The processes of printing and copying are repeatedly referenced. It’s highlighted in the show’s title Made in Their Image.

The paintings are direct copies, enlargements, of black and white sketches made by the artist. That’s not the same thing as working from preliminary drawings. Where an artist works from a study the painting tends to ‘correct’ the sketch. Jones copies the sketch, including any strange marks that on second sight may seem meaningless to the depiction. The marks hence start to have a life of their own, independent almost of the things they are describing. Map becomes more important than territory. In one painting, for example, a red mark appearing alongside a tree trunk is vaguely reminiscent of a fire extinguisher or some such object. What’s it doing there? It’s alien, unless read as an accidental mark from the drawing that now gets included in the painting. The finished picture is less a version of the scene, more a version of the representation, an image of an image. The colours also have an arbitrariness that might be associated with printing a design in a variety of schemes. The decorative Six Line Cups especially so, along with the series of paintings on canvas of cups and saucers in differing colours entitled The Four Seasons but there is also some of this in the paintings of trees.

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The exhibition starts out with line drawings of a cathedral in different surfaces (in each one the drawing is ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ the coloured ground) and two portraits in a similar style to the cathedrals. The represented object or subject is almost absent as if having to be put together by the viewer. Other works seem the opposite of these in that the objects represented have more ‘presence’ than perhaps they should have. Trees take on an eerie, person-like character. They are slightly unsettling, and not just because of the long shadows that tend to induce an atmosphere of foreboding associated with evening time. In these paintings the long shadows are morning shadows and the colours have a certain optimism that prevents the feeling of being unsettled from becoming full blown dread. However, there is something of an expressionistic approach being taken. Jones’s religious titles encourage not just an expressionistic reading but a symbolist one as well, so it might be in keeping imagining, with the prophet Isaiah, the trees of the fields clapping their hands (Isa 55:12).

The show continues until 24 February 2013.


Written by Andy Parkinson

January 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm