The work of Otis Jones is hard to pin down. They are sculptural paintings where the process comes centerstage in each work. They are intensely physical, yet restrained; formal abstractions, but embracing intuition and uncertainty. Jones’ interests lie in the essentials: the relationship of shape, composition and color. Subtle nuances give his paintings marvelous character. “I’m interested in objects, patina, wear, and age. Each piece takes on its own geology. I don’t hide anything. It’s a very real object”, Jones once said.
Roughly-cut canvases are tacked onto irregularly-shaped handmade thick wood panels, where the layered plywood edges and staples are deliberately left exposed as compositional elements. Then, guided by intuition and experience, Jones continuously applies and sands away acrylic paint. This empirical ritual is repeated until an abraded texture of intense visual depth is achieved. Cratered, stained, and still luminous, the surface bears the marks of its maker – one can sense its genealogy, the inscribed time, and sincerity.
After closer examination complex layers of overpainted colors are found in seemingly monochromatic paintings. Finally, geometric shapes of lines, dots and squares, either excavated from previous layers or important enough to spare from erasure, are deployed. This bestows the work with soul. The proportions of these elements, the size of circles or length of dashes, are perfectly balanced. Nothing feels contrived, every element is essential as if it was organically grown there and the object could exist in no other way.
There are echoes of Post-Minimalism and even Asian Mono-ha, and color field, however in the end this Texas artist is original and timely. The painting process is reified in these personal and eccentric works.