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.'
Looking over my
Glasses (2012) is, painted against a black background which
'rather as in Russian icons, makes the colours stand out with
jewel-like vividness'. She comments on 'the resolved triangular
geometry of the pose' and likens the piercing autobiographical
regard to the way 'Rembrandt used eyes very powerfully to transfix
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.