Rachel Jones Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones

British
b. 1991
/

Overview

'I try to use colour to describe black bodies. I want to translate all that lust for self-expression into a language that exists outside of words, and instead relates to seeing and feeling with your eyes.'

Rachel Jones has developed a deeply personal approach to abstraction, centred around an exploration of her own identity in relation to society’s readings of the black body throughout history. Jones’s paintings are informed by her research into the depiction of black figures in the arts from the eighteenth century to the present – how they are understood and culturally reproduced, and the potential role of these representations in dismantling existing power structures. The figure is notably abstracted in her works, as the artist is interested in ‘using motifs and colour as a way to communicate ideas about the interiority of black bodies and their lived experience’.

In her paintings, Jones grapples with the challenges of finding visual means to convey abstract, existential concepts. In depicting the psychological truths of being and the emotions these engender, she uses abstraction as a way of expressing the intangible. The artist repeats motifs and symbols across her series to create associative, even familial, relationships between them, underscoring their kinship as part of her ongoing investigation of identity. In recent works, Jones uses the abstracted forms of mouths and teeth to indicate a symbolic and literal entry point to the interior and the self. These oral forms emerge and recede from view, suggesting a vivid inner landscape.

Rachel Jones has developed a deeply personal approach to abstraction, centred around an exploration of her own identity in relation to society’s readings of the black body throughout history. Jones’s paintings are informed by her research into the depiction of black figures in the arts from the eighteenth century to the present – how they are understood and culturally reproduced, and the potential role of these representations in dismantling existing power structures. The figure is notably abstracted in her works, as the artist is interested in ‘using motifs and colour as a way to communicate ideas about the interiority of black bodies and their lived experience’.

In her paintings, Jones grapples with the challenges of finding visual means to convey abstract, existential concepts. In depicting the psychological truths of being and the emotions these engender, she uses abstraction as a way of expressing the intangible. The artist repeats motifs and symbols across her series to create associative, even familial, relationships between them, underscoring their kinship as part of her ongoing investigation of identity. In recent works, Jones uses the abstracted forms of mouths and teeth to indicate a symbolic and literal entry point to the interior and the self. These oral forms emerge and recede from view, suggesting a vivid inner landscape.

Jones focuses on conveying a sense of self as a visual, bodily, sensory and visceral experience. The artist creates a tension or friction in her paintings through the kaleidoscopic palette, boldness of competing forms and interplay of textures. She has described her work as an ‘exegesis of colour’, dominated by fiery reds, fleshy pinks and acid yellows against the counterbalancing coolness of blues and greens. The same critical eye that she turns upon questions of cultural identity and selfhood is applied to the language of painting itself, in works that reconsider both traditional and contemporary approaches to colour and form.

Jones joined the gallery when her work was included in the group exhibition A Focus on Painting (2020), curated by Julia Peyton-Jones. She completed her MA at the Royal Academy Schools, London, in 2019. The same year, her work was exhibited alongside Gillian Ayres and Nao Matsunaga at the New Art Centre, Salisbury, and in a solo show following her residency at The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas. She has also exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019 and 2018); Fleming Collection, London (2014); and Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (2014). Jones was awarded the André Dunoyer de Segonzac Hon RA Prize in 2019 and the Machin Foundation Painting Prize in 2018, as well as a residency at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art in 2016.

Videos

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A Focus on Painting with Katy Hessel

A Focus on Painting

with Katy Hessel
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Frieze Talk | Painting Today Alvaro Barrington, Mandy El-Sayegh, Rachel Jones and Dona Nelson, chaired by Julia Peyton-Jones

Frieze Talk | Painting Today

Alvaro Barrington, Mandy El-Sayegh, Rachel Jones and Dona Nelson, chaired by Julia Peyton-Jones
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Installation view of Yan Pei-Ming's Against the Light at Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg Villa Kast Installation view of Yan Pei-Ming's Against the Light at Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg Villa Kast
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