Continuing through October 2, 2021
In nine paintings that vary from subdued to bold color, Jeffrey Cortland Jones explores urban spaces and rural landscapes via abstraction. Executed over the last year and a half, they signal a new direction for the artist. He has replaced a concentration on vertical formats with a focus on the horizontal. Painted in enamel on thick plexiglass panels, Jones applies pigment on both sides of the clear slab-like sheets so as to take advantage of their transparency. The artist exploits the way color seeps and refracts, its interaction with light, through the verso to the recto. This conditions our experience upon seeing a particular image from the front.
The horizontal format intentionally suggests panoramic photography, letterboxed widescreen cinema, as well as the landscape tradition in painting. In each work Jones bisects the picture plane with a strong vertical, sectioning the image into two halves that play off of each other with contrasts in color. They thus engage with the interaction of opposites described through dialectics, like transparency versus opacity, or polished versus matte surfaces.
Multiple layers of paint are laid down beneath what ends up becoming the finished surface. Usually lines at the edges are evidence of taped-off sections that reveal his working method. Jones spends hours dealing with the surface of each piece — sanding, polishing and scoring sections of a composition during a labor-intensive process that leaves no trace in the elegant hues and reflective phrases that emanate from the completed works.
In “Landscape Replica (Lovely Lashes)” the left side of the bisected plane, mainly in a cloudy light blue bordered above and below with hints of aquamarine, reads as a reference to, but not a depiction of nature. In turn, it’s contrasted on the right with a preponderance of blue/green bordered by purple with yellow splatters throughout, like the urban spray paint of graffiti. Where this painting deals in non-objective representation, “Landscape Replica (So Soon, As If Summer Never Happened)” counters with a horizon line on both sides of the composition. Perhaps it’s a view of the ocean with an open sky above the water, where the right side looks like waves that reveal Jones’ treatment of the surface. On the left the corresponding section has a polished, almost pixelated treatment, blurry and indeterminate. In this painting he offers an either/or proposition on the nature of representation, suggesting that each perception is equally legitimate.
In this body of work, both lines and evidence of layering from the taped-off sections are ever-present. When read together, along with the transparent motifs at work via the acrylic panels, the paintings take on a cinematic quality that easily imagines a moving, layered spool of film cells interacting among the elements. Each contributes to the illusion that reads as a unique pictorial space.
Along the lines of low contrast imagery, the subtle yet robust “Landscape Replica (Summers Stellar Gaze)” features a second horizon line that runs across the lower border of the entire painting. A beige band of color appears where Jones aggressively used skateboard wheels to score and gouge the surface. Depending on how distant a point of view, this treatment renders a graphic field of waves when viewed from afar, or a scorched terrain from close up. Here, most literally, Jones reveals his resolution of an irreconcilable polarity that exists, formally and metaphorically between rural and urban realms.