Lucy Jones is known for her painted self-portraits which address ideas of femininity, aging and disability through a frank and revealing portrayal of her own body. For the first time in many years, Jones has returned to making portraits of others. Titles of works in the exhibition such as Husband reveal the intimacy of the relationships between Jones and her sitters, addressing ideas of the self through the unknown interiority of those close to her.
The portrait titled Roger is of a close friend and sculptor, and former fellow Gulbenkian Rome Scholar, the late Roger Partridge. The painting was commissioned by his family during medical treatment for Cancer, and was completed shortly before his death. For Jones, the poignant experience of painting the portrait allowed for a further meditation on the artistic ideas of awkward beauty and the precariousness of life, which have threaded through the work of both artists. Working over an extended period of time, Jones has subjected the portrait to persistent re-configuration, shifting the intensity of characteristically expressive swathes of colour and adjusting the teetering balance of form until physical likeness gives way to an ‘unseen’ essence of the sitter.
During 2014, Jones spent longer periods working outside in the landscape, along the borders of England and Wales. The paintings which have arisen from this prolonged engagement respond to the particular sensations of place and the revolving cycles of the seasons. The landscape paintings can also evoke a sense of Jones’s own physicality through the visceral energy implied by each mark, evident in the language she uses to describe her process: “grabbing hold” of its essence, and “pinning down” colour.
Within each arrangement, memories of space, rhythm and colour are reinvented, beginning with an initial tonal reaction to a pre-coloured ground. In the painting Tree, the picture plane is dissected into two halves by a bowing tree trunk. This division allows for two distinct pictorial spaces to operate within the canvas; the area to the right projects upwards towards the viewer, while the fields to the left recede towards infinity, inviting the viewer to explore the painting from its edges.
Matthew Collings has said: “Colour textures, colour space, colour pleasure – she puts all the elements together in ways that seem both organised, possessing a strong eye for pattern and arrangement, and raw, possessing a great capacity for taking a mad chance. A colour area can seem like a burn or something searing, not something built or carved. Colour can loom, make the whole picture seem like it’s about to take off, or it can be like explosive charges…” 1
1. Matthew Collings, Higher Beings Command: Drive! Draw! Paint!, 2008, Exhibition Cat. Lucy Jones, Stepping Out Into A World Beyond. Flowers Gallery, London. Page 15.