Beyond the Allotment, 2013
Following on from the success of Lucy Jones'
solo exhibition at Kings Place, London, this dramatic collection of
portraits and landscapes will now travel to Northumbria University.
Born in London in 1955, Lucy Jones is a
painter of both provocatively disquieting self-portraits and
unpeopled landscapes of flaring colours and raw, wild beauty. Her
landscape paintings preclude, she says, 'overt human narrative, so
I've left people out. My landscapes are about looking out
into the world; my self-portraits are the other side of the coin.'
At Camberwell School of Art, an expressionist
affinity was nurtured by visiting tutors, the painters Frank
Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. Living for many years in London (until
moving to Shropshire in 2004), she painted incandescent riverscapes
of 'the simple architectural spaces' around the South Bank.
Creating early self-portraits, 'I had not
liked looking at myself in the mirror. I felt sexless (unlike Frida
Kahlo)... Things have changed quite a lot in the last years and
depression is far less prominent. I met my husband twenty-five
years ago and my confidence grew. I began to paint the whole of me
and paint the awkwardness of how I look - which is both personal
and common to all. I still use a mirror every time... in my studio
I have two full-length mirrors and another smaller one.'
Central to her work is a Bonnard-like
appreciation of the musical role of complementary colours and tones
in making a painting cohere and sing. The prominent arc-like
eyelids are echoed here in the slightly ruddier tints of the
decorative crosses on the cardigan, whose startling turquoise
appears as high-pitched in tone as the eyelids themselves. Her
recent self-portraits feature poignantly matter-of-facts 'props',
including a wheelie walking frame, clinically bleak in form and
hue, whose sculptural 'pose' wittily echoes that of the standing
artist herself, resplendent in psychedelically-striped jumper.
Exploring the Marches (her local terrain) by
car, she will kneel on the ground, in front of the landscape, for
several hours. These literally painstaking, consummately absorbed
sessions result in intensively worked drawings and watercolours,
which she repeatedly uses later in the studio as studies for oil paintings.